The Emotional Toll of Dialysis

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) A recent study done in Spain shows the different ways in which people with kidney disease cope with dialysis and view their quality of life, both in and out of hospital.

Dialysis is a method used to help those with kidney failure or complications related to the kidneys. It involves filtration of the blood with the help of a machine. An estimated 23 million adults in the United States have some form of chronic kidney disease, and in 2007, at least 527,000 were being treated for end-stage renal disease (ESRD).

In the United States, hemodialysis tends to cost more, due to physician fees and hospital visits. Difference in cost between hemodialysis and peritoneal (in-home dialysis) usually is about $43,500 dollars, with peritoneal being the less costly. Eighty-five percent more people rate peritoneal dialysis better than hemodialysis, which has only a 56 percent favorable rating from patients. Peritoneal dialysis is less efficient than hemodialysis, however, and can lead to greater risk of infection.

Researchers out of Spain have recently studied the emotional effects of dialysis on patients, hoping to improve future treatment and overall quality of life for those undergoing the difficult procedure.

There are two core ways patients perceive their lives and illness: through introspection and adaptation. Introspection is a negative reaction, in which patients become self-critical, isolate themselves and experience more stress.

But those who take an adaptive approach, on the other hand, cope with stress by accepting the support of those around them and having a positive outlook.

Family support, as well as the important doctor-patient relationship, helps patients find more emotional wellness and helps them more readily accept treatment.

Finally, patients who underwent hemodialysis in a hospital were more unhappy than those undergoing peritoneal dialysis at home. The freedom and control of receiving treatment at home resulted in a more pleasant experience overall.

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Review Date: 
January 11, 2011
Last Updated:
January 13, 2011