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A new way to measure the burden of dialysis for kidney patients

12 July 2023

Kidney Research UK have awarded Dr David Wellsted from the University of Hertfordshire a £82,000 PhD Studentship to develop a new tool to measure treatment burden for patients who are receiving dialysis treatment. 

The problem

Dialysis is an effective treatment for kidney failure, but it can also cause high levels of burden for patients and their families. This ‘treatment burden’ can be defined as the total impact that a treatment has on a patient’s wellbeing and quality of life. In order to improve the experiences and quality of life of people on dialysis, it is important to understand what aspect of treatment are more burdensome. David and his team will find new ways to accurately measure and assess the burden of dialysis. 

Dr David Wellsted
Emma Caton will work with Dr David Wellsted

The solution

David and his team will study published research on dialysis burden and conduct in-depth one-to-one interviews with patients to better understand the impact that dialysis has on their lives. They will use this information to develop a new scale for measuring treatment burden. The scale will be tested and improved so that it can be used across the NHS to better understand the impact of dialysis.  

“This is an exciting project for our research group at Hertfordshire. For a number of years we have been trying to find a way to capture the impact of treatment on people living with end stage renal disease, and only recently identified the gap in our range of measurement toolsIf we did not have rulers, it would take a spark of inspiration to invent a way to measure thingsNow we will soon have a ruler to measure how dialysis has an impact on peoples’ lives, and from that we can continue with more confidence to try and help services improve the lives of people living with this disease. 

What this means for patients

Currently there is a knowledge gap between people on dialysis and the clinical team that support them. The new assessment tool developed by David and his team will help healthcare providers understand how dialysis has an impact, identify areas which could be improved to reduce impact, and plan how best to make these changes. The tool could also support the testing of new approaches to dialysis in national and international research. 

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