Individuals with kidney failure undergoing maintenance dialysis frequently report a high symptom burden that can interfere with functioning and diminish life satisfaction. Until recently, the focus of nephrology care for dialysis patients has been related primarily to numerical targets for laboratory measures, and outcomes such as cardiovascular disease and mortality. Routine symptom assessment is not universal or standardized in dialysis care. Even when symptoms are identified, treatment options are limited and are initiated infrequently, in part because of a paucity of evidence in the dialysis population and the complexities of medication interactions in kidney failure. In May of 2022, Kidney Disease: Improving Global Outcomes (KDIGO) held a Controversies Conference-Symptom-Based Complications in Dialysis-to identify the optimal means for diagnosing and managing symptom-based complications in patients undergoing maintenance dialysis. Participants included patients, physicians, behavioral therapists, nurses, pharmacists, and clinical researchers. They outlined foundational principles and consensus points related to identifying and addressing symptoms experienced by patients undergoing dialysis and described gaps in the knowledge base and priorities for research. Healthcare delivery and education systems have a responsibility to provide individualized symptom assessment and management. Nephrology teams should take the lead in symptom management, although this does not necessarily mean taking ownership of all aspects of care. Even when options for clinical response are limited, clinicians should focus on acknowledging, prioritizing, and managing symptoms that are most important to individual patients. A recognized factor in the initiation and implementation of improvements in symptom assessment and management is that they will be based on locally existing needs and resources.
Keywords: health-related quality of life; hemodialysis; kidney failure; patient-reported outcome measures; peritoneal dialysis; symptoms.
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