Use of focus groups to identify concerns about dialysis

Eric B. Bass, Mollie Jenckes, Nancy E. Fink, Kate A. Cagney, Albert W. Wu, John H. Sadler, Klemens B. Meyer, Andrew S. Levey, Neil R. Powe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

50 Scopus citations


Background. Patients with end-stage renal disease (ESRD) may have quality-of-life (QOL) concerns that are not fully appreciated by their providers. The authors conducted focus groups with dialysis patients and dialysis professionals to determine whether this qualitative method would reveal differences between patients' and providers' views about: 1) domains of QOL that are affected by ESRD and dialysis; and 2) aspects of dialysis that affect QOL. Methods. Separate focus group discussions were held with: 8 adult hemodialysis patients (mean age 50 years; 3 women; mean duration of dialysis 8.5 years), 5 adult peritoneal dialysis patients (mean age 54 years; 3 women; mean duration of dialysis 4.6 years), 8 nephrologists (mean of 12 years of dialysis practice), and 9 other health professionals involved in dialysis care (3 nurses, 2 dietitians, 2 social workers, and 2 technicians; mean of 10 years experience in dialysis care). Discussions were audiotaped, transcribed verbatim, and reviewed independently by three investigators to identify and categorize distinct thoughts. Results. 1,271 distinct thoughts were identified and grouped into 20 related categories, which included ten QOL domains and ten aspects of dialysis that affect QOL. Compared with the professionals, the patients identified one additional relevant QOL domain (10 vs 9), and one additional aspect of dialysis that affects QOL (10 vs 9), and expressed more thoughts per domain (p < 0.05), although the contents of their comments were frequently similar. Among QOL domains, the numbers of related thoughts identified by patients and professionals, respectively, were: freedom/control (60, 89); social relationships (36, 11); anxiety (37, 4); role function (24, 10); energy (12, 10); body image (16, 4); sex (11, 21); mental attitude (21, 0); sleep (15, 1), and cognitive function (13, 7). Among aspects of dialysis that affect QOL, the numbers of thoughts identified by patients and professionals were: general dialysis issues (159, 105); relationships with staff (62, 110); patient education (63, 68); diet (44, 40); scheduling (57, 3); vascular or peritoneal access issues (31, 17), adaptation to dialysis (16, 14); dialysis dose (18, 8); symptoms (25, 0), and self-care (5, 24). Conclusions. Although health professionals have a good understanding of patient concerns about the effects of ESRD and dialysis, the focus group discussions revealed a breadth and depth of QOL concerns that they may not fully appreciate.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)287-295
Number of pages9
JournalMedical Decision Making
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 1999
Externally publishedYes


  • Dialysis treatment
  • Focus groups
  • Patient perspective
  • Quality of life

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Policy


Dive into the research topics of 'Use of focus groups to identify concerns about dialysis'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this