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Established kidney failure in young adulthood tied to impaired psychosocial health

31 Oct 2018

Young adults undergoing renal replacement therapy (RRT), despite having healthier lifestyles, are more likely to have psychosocial problems, which negatively affect quality of life, social engagement and employment, according to data from the SPEAK* study.

Researchers examined the psychosocial health and lifestyle behaviours of 417 patients (71 percent) with kidney transplants and 173 (29 percent) on dialysis therapy, all of whom were aged 16–30 years and receiving RRT.

Compared with the general population, young patients on RRT were less likely to be in a relationship and have children, and more likely to live in the family home and be unable to work due to health. These individuals also had poorer quality of life and mental wellbeing (p<0.001 for both) and a more than twofold higher likelihood of a psychological disturbance (odds ratio, 2.7; 95 percent CI, 2.0–3.7; p<0.001).

Young patients on RRT notably had a healthier lifestyle compared with the general population. These patients were less likely to smoke (p<0.001), drink alcohol (p<0.001), use marijuana (p<0.001) or other street drugs (p<0.001), and spend money on gambling (p<0.001), although they were less likely to report having had sex (p=0.001) and to have had sex with both men and women (p=0.02).

These findings indicate that established kidney failure in young adulthood is associated with impaired psychosocial health and positive lifestyle behaviours, researchers said. Clinicians and other healthcare professionals need a holistic approach to the management of young adults on RRT so that these issues, as well as their renal health, are considered.

*Surveying Patients Experiencing Young Adult Kidney Failure

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