Itching in dialysis patients: impact on health-related quality of life and interactions with sleep problems and psychological symptoms-results from the RENINE/PROMs registry

Esmee M. van der Willik, Robin Lengton, Marc H. Hemmelder, Ellen K. Hoogeveen, Hans A. J. Bart, Frans J. van Ittersum, Marc A. G. J. ten Dam, Willem Jan W. Bos, Friedo W. Dekker, Yvette Meuleman

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BACKGROUND: Itching (pruritus) is common in dialysis patients, but little is known about its impact on health-related quality of life (HRQOL), sleep problems and psychological symptoms. This study investigates the impact of itching in dialysis patients by looking into the persistence of itching, the effect of itching on the course of HRQOL and the combined effect of itching with sleep problems and with psychological symptoms on HRQOL. METHODS: Data were obtained from the RENINE/PROMs registry and included 2978 dialysis patients who completed patient-reported outcome measures between 2018 and 2020. Itching, sleep problems and psychological symptoms were assessed with the Dialysis Symptom Index (DSI) and HRQOL with the 12-item Short Form Health Survey. Effects of itching on HRQOL and interactions with sleep problems and psychological symptoms were investigated cross-sectionally and longitudinally using linear regression and linear mixed models. RESULTS: Half of the patients experienced itching and in 70% of them, itching was persistent. Itching was associated with a lower physical and mental HRQOL {-3.35 [95% confidence interval (CI) -4.12 to -2.59) and -3.79 [95% CI -4.56 to -3.03]}. HRQOL remained stable during 2 years and trajectories did not differ between patients with or without itching. Sleep problems (70% versus 52%) and psychological symptoms (36% versus 19%) were more common in patients with itching. These symptoms had an additional negative effect on HRQOL but did not interact with itching. CONCLUSIONS: The persistence of itching, its impact on HRQOL over time and the additional effect on HRQOL of sleep problems and psychological symptoms emphasize the need for recognition and effective treatment of itching to reduce symptom burden and improve HRQOL.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1731-1741
Number of pages11
JournalNephrology, dialysis, transplantation : official publication of the European Dialysis and Transplant Association - European Renal Association
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2022


  • dialysis
  • health-related quality of life (HRQOL)
  • pruritus
  • psychological symptoms
  • sleep problems

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