Dyspnoea assessment in adults with end‐stage kidney disease: A systematic review Academic Article uri icon


  • BACKGROUND:Dyspnoea is a common, disabling symptom of people living with end-stage kidney disease (ESKD), which may persist despite optimal management. Dyspnoea assessments can be grouped according to the instruments that assess domains related to: sensory-perception (intensity, sensory quality), affective distress (unpleasantness) and impact/burden (function, quality of life). OBJECTIVES:To describe dyspnoea assessment in adults with ESKD receiving renal replacement therapy (RRT). DESIGN:Systematic review. METHODS:Five databases were searched. Primary studies reporting an assessment of dyspnoea in adults with ESKD receiving RRT were included. Studies were excluded where participants with ESKD had received palliative/conservative treatment (no dialysis) or renal transplant. Conference abstracts, protocols, commentaries and/or images were excluded. Two independent reviewers screened and extracted the data. Descriptive analysis summarised the (1) number and type of instruments used to assess dyspnoea; (2) which dyspnoea domains to be assessed and (3) rationale and context for dyspnoea assessment. RESULTS:From 2,234 records screened, 28 studies were eligible for inclusion (observational n = 22 and experimental n = 6). Across studies, 12 different instruments were identified (dyspnoea-specific n = 3, subscale of a comprehensive instrument n = 9). Most instruments (n = 11, 92%) assessed a single domain (intensity n = 6, unpleasantness n = 6 and impact/burden n = 5). Studies reported a rationale for measuring dyspnoea (n = 26) as either a characteristic of the participant cohort (n = 14) or as an outcome (n = 14). CONCLUSIONS:Surprisingly, a few primary studies reported assessment of dyspnoea in people with ESKD receiving RRT. When assessed, there was a predominance of unidimensional instruments. As dyspnoea is associated with adverse clinical outcomes, routine dyspnoea assessment may improve management and relieve suffering.

publication date

  • 2020