Pruritus Has Adverse Impact on Quality of Life in Dialysis Patients

SEATTLE—Pruritus adversely affects quality of life (QoL) in a large segment of the dialysis population, according to a new study presented at the 33rd Annual Dialysis Conference.   

“There is a certain segment of dialysis patients who certainly are very bothered by skin itchiness both during dialysis sessions and outside of that,” said investigator Scott Sibbel, PhD, who is with DaVita Clinical Research in Minneapolis, Minn.

He and his colleagues analyzed the association between itchiness scores on the Kidney Disease Quality of Life 36 instrument (KDQOL) and the component physical and mental scores reported by 71,012 dialysis patients. All the patients completed the SF-12 portion of the KDQOL. The KDQOL instrument assesses dialysis-specific, patient-reported, health-related quality of life for individuals on dialysis. The SF-12 portion looks specific at physical and mental well-being. Dr. The survey is administered every year to all dialysis patients treated at a large dialysis organization, he said.

In the study, 30% of patients reported they were moderately to extremely bothered by itching, with 60% of patients reporting at least some level of itching. In addition, the study showed a significant association between itchiness and physical and mental component scores in the SF-12 portion of the KDQOL. Overall, the study found that skin itchiness is an independent predictor of other aspects of QoL, suggesting that it is an important condition to address.

“If we can resolve itchiness for a certain segment of these patients, we could potentially resolve other quality of life issues as well,” Dr. Sibbel told Renal & Urology News.

In a previous study presented at the American Society of Nephrology's 2012 Kidney Week, the same researchers reported that increasing severity of self-reported itchiness tended to occur in slightly younger patients, female patients, and those with diabetes. Patients with severe pruritus were also more likely have cardiovascular disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or liver disease.

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