Kidney transplantation is believed to improve health-related quality of life (HRQoL) of patients requiring renal replacement therapy (RRT). Recent studies suggested that the observed difference in HRQoL between kidney transplant recipients (Tx) vs patients treated with dialysis may reflect differences in patient characteristics. We tested if Tx patients have better HRQoL compared to waitlisted (WL) patients treated with dialysis after extensive adjustment for covariables.
Eight hundred and eighty-eight prevalent Tx patients followed at a single outpatient transplant clinic and 187 WL patients treated with maintenance dialysis in nine dialysis centres were enrolled in this observational cross-sectional study. Data about socio-demographic and clinical parameters, self-reported depressive symptoms and the most frequent sleep disorders assessed by self-reported questionnaires were collected at enrollment. HRQoL was assessed by the Kidney Disease Quality of Life Questionnaire.
Patient characteristics were similar in the Tx vs WL groups: the proportion of males (58 vs 60%), mean ± SD age (49 ± 13 vs 49 ± 12) and proportion of diabetics (17 vs 18%), respectively, were all similar. Tx patients had significantly better HRQoL scores compared to the WL group both in generic (Physical function, General health perceptions, Energy/fatigue, Emotional well-being) and in kidney disease-specific domains (Symptoms/problems, Effect- and Burden of kidney disease and Sleep). In multivariate regression models adjusting for clinical and socio-demographic characteristics, sleep disorders and depressive symptoms, the modality of RRT (WL vs Tx) remained independently associated with three (General health perceptions, Effect- and Burden of kidney disease) out of the eight HRQoL dimensions analysed.
Kidney Tx recipients have significantly better HRQoL compared to WL dialysis patients in some, but not all, dimensions of quality of life after accounting for differences in patient characteristics. Utilizing multidimensional disease-specific questionnaires will allow better understanding of treatment, disease and patient-related factors potentially affecting quality of life in patients with chronic medical conditions.