Dialysis support group at San Joaquin General Hospital dialysis clinic

In the United States over 430,000 people undergo dialysis treatment annually to replace the functions of a healthy kidney. To measure the impact dialysis treatment has on patients’ quality of life, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) adopted indicators on the Kidney Disease Quality of Life (KDQOL) survey to evaluate patients’ perceptions of their quality of life. These indicators are: 1) Physical health, 2) Mental and emotional health, 3) Burden of kidney disease, 4) Symptoms and problems caused by dialysis treatment, and 5) Effects of kidney disease on daily life. Research has shown the positive influence of social support in the course of chronic illness. This researcher proposed the implementation of a dialysis support group at San Joaquin General Hospital, and developed a curriculum that addressed quality of life indicators specific to kidney disease. This project offered a unique opportunity for patients to discuss topics related to chronic kidney disease and dialysis, share information and experiences with each other, receive education, and to provide and receive emotional support. Patient evaluations suggested that participants of the dialysis support group gained increased knowledge of kidney disease and treatment options, and found this group to be an outlet to share experiences with other patients who also face the challenges of chronic kidney disease. The evaluation surveys also indicated that participants would benefit from further and continued education on physical and mental health to improve their perceptions of their overall health in relation to kidney disease.