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Keywords:

  • dialysis;
  • end-stage renal disease;
  • psychosocial characteristics;
  • quality of life;
  • chronic illness;
  • nursing;
  • technology

The biopsychosocial impact of end-stage renal disease: the experience of dialysis patients and their partners

This phenomenological study was conducted to investigate the biopsychosocial impact of end-stage renal disease on dialysis patients and their partners. Forty-four participants were interviewed separately (22 patients and their partners) by way of two open-ended questions, and multiple themes were identified from verbatim transcripts. Both the patients and partners viewed their relationship very positively, and both were overwhelmed by the impact of dialysis on their lives. Anger, depression and hopelessness were evident in the patients, whilst a pervasive sadness, resentment, guilt and loss were prevalent in the partners. This study gives a unique perspective on the negative impact which dialysis can have on couples, yet it also suggests that some are able to cope in a positive way despite the many life-style adjustments required by dialysis. The results of this study indicate that nurses need to recognize and respond to the tremendous emotional impact that chronic illness and its treatment can have on families in an era where it is possible to sustain life for years with the use of life support technology.