Cognitive-behavioral therapy provided chair-side to kidney failure patients while they’re undergoing dialysis may help fight depression and improve patients’ quality of life, according to a new study.
While advances in medical technology mean dialysis patients are living longer and healthier lives, depression is still a “serious and prevalent” problem, according to researchers. In addition to taking a toll on emotional health, depression has also been linked with shortened life spans in dialysis patients.
Daniel Cukor, Ph.D., of the State University of New York Downstate Medical Center and his colleagues addressed this hurdle by providing a specially adapted cognitive-behavioral therapy for depression that is provided chair-side, while patients are undergoing dialysis.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy teaches a patient to learn effective self-help skills that help change the way the person thinks, feels and behaves. It is action-oriented and helps the patient gain independence and mastery in dealing with issues, the researchers explain.
“We believe such an intervention is eminently practical and feasible for implementation in dialysis units,” Cukor noted.
The research team tested the strategy in 59 patients undergoing treatment at dialysis centers in New York. In 33 patients, cognitive-behavioral therapy was administered chair-side during dialysis for three months. Another 26 patients did not receive behavioral therapy during dialysis. Patients were assessed three and six months later.
The researchers found that those in the treatment group achieved significantly larger reductions in depression scores compared with the control group.
Among patients with depression diagnosed at the start of the study, 89 percent in the treatment group were not depressed at the end of treatment, compared with 38 percent in the control group.
Patients in the treatment group experienced greater improvements in quality of life and were better able to control fluid intake between dialysis sessions, which makes the next dialysis session more efficient, the researchers added.
“We were able to have a substantial and positive impact on the level of depression, quality of life, and fluid adherence of dialysis patients, without using any medication and only minimal additional treatment burden on the patient,” said Cukor.
“These results are novel and encouraging, as they indicate that, despite the complex challenges of life on dialysis, there are now tools that are available to the clinician to address depression in patients.”
The study was published in the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology (JASN).
Source: American Society of Nephrology