Brief Mindfulness Intervention vs. Health Enhancement Program for Patients Undergoing Dialysis: A Randomized Controlled Trial

Healthcare (Basel). 2021 Jun 1;9(6):659. doi: 10.3390/healthcare9060659.


Background: Between 20-50% of patients undergoing maintenance dialysis for end-stage kidney disease experience symptoms of depression and/or anxiety, associated with increased mortality, greater health care utilization, and decreased quality of life. It is unknown whether mindfulness-based interventions can improve depression and anxiety symptoms in patients receiving this treatment.

Methods: We conducted an 8-week multicenter randomized controlled trial comparing a brief mindfulness intervention (BMI) vs. an active control (Health Enhancement Program [HEP]) in 55 patients receiving dialysis with symptoms of depression and/or anxiety. The primary outcome was change in Patient Health Questionnaire-9 (PHQ-9) depression scores, with a primary analysis in participants with baseline PHQ-9 ≥ 10, and a secondary analysis including all participants. The secondary outcome was change in Generalized Anxiety Disorder-7 (GAD-7) anxiety scores with corresponding primary and secondary analyses.

Results: Both BMI and HEP reduced depressive symptoms, with no difference between trial arms (PHQ-9 change = -7.0 vs. -6.1, p = 0.62). BMI was more effective than HEP in reducing anxiety (GAD-7 change = -8.7 vs. -1.4, p = 0.01). Secondary analyses revealed no differences between arms.

Conclusions: For patients undergoing dialysis, both BMI and HEP may be helpful interventions for depression symptoms, and BMI may be superior to HEP for anxiety symptoms. Mindfulness-based and other psychosocial interventions may be further evaluated in those undergoing dialysis as treatment options for symptoms of depression and anxiety.

Keywords: anxiety; depression; dialysis; meditation; mindfulness.