Illness representations and quality of life scores in haemodialysis patients.Nephrol Dial Transplant. 2004 Aug; 19(8):2078-83.ND
Health-related quality of life (QoL) in haemodialysis (HD) patients is a significant predictor of mortality and hospitalization. Patients' adaptation to a chronic disease is determined by their beliefs about illness and treatment. In this cross-sectional study we examined the impact of illness representations on QoL of HD patients and the influence of HD duration on this relationship.
Eighty-two clinically stable HD patients completed the Short Form-36 Health Survey (mean age 47.9+/-12.1, mean treatment duration 72+/-50.6, 53.6% males). Illness representations were assessed by a structured interview containing questions derived from The Revised Illness Perception Questionnaire.
Our results indicate a relatively low QoL of HD patients, with an important proportion of patients scoring less than 43 for the physical component summary (65.9%) and less than 51 for the mental component summary (58.5%). HD patients consider their illness as having a chronic course, which they understand and control quite well. A higher personal control is associated with a lower emotional response and a better understanding of the disease. However, the perceived negative consequences of the disease upon patients' personal lives are considerable, as is their emotional response. Four of the six components of illness representations were strongly related to QoL parameters. On multiple regression analysis, between 15 and 31% in the variance of the physical and mental component of QoL was explained by three dimensions of illness representations: the perceived course of the disease, personal control and emotional response. Only the emotional response dimension of the illness representations is related to treatment duration (r = -0.48, P<0.01).
Our study demonstrates important relationships between illness representations and QoL in end-stage renal disease patients treated by HD. Future research will have to plan for interventions that could alter illness representations in order to confirm the real impact of illness representations upon patients' QoL.