Dietary and fluid restrictions in CKD: A thematic synthesis of patient views from qualitative studies

Suetonia Palmer, Camilla Hanson, Jonathan Craig, Giovanni Strippoli, Marinella Ruospo, Katrina Campbell, David Johnson, Allison Tong

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

104 Citations (Scopus)


Background Managing the complex fluid and diet requirements of chronic kidney disease (CKD) is challenging for patients. We aimed to summarize patients' perspectives of dietary and fluid management in CKD to inform clinical practice and research. Study Design Systematic review of qualitative studies. Setting & Population Adults with CKD who express opinions about dietary and fluid management. Search Strategy & Sources MEDLINE, EMBASE, PsycINFO, CINAHL, Google Scholar, reference lists, and PhD dissertations were searched to May 2013. Analytical Approach Thematic synthesis. Results We included 46 studies involving 816 patients living in middle- to high-income countries. Studies involved patients treated with facility-based and home hemodialysis (33 studies; 462 patients), peritoneal dialysis (10 studies; 112 patients), either hemodialysis or peritoneal dialysis (3 studies; 73 patients), kidney transplant recipients (9 studies; 89 patients), and patients with non-dialysis-dependent CKD stages 1 to 5 (5 studies; 80 patients). Five major themes were identified: preserving relationships (interference with roles, social limitations, and being a burden), navigating change (feeling deprived, disrupting held truths, breaking habits and norms, being overwhelmed by information, questioning efficacy, and negotiating priorities), fighting temptation (resisting impositions, experiencing mental invasion, and withstanding physiologic needs), optimizing health (accepting responsibility, valuing self-management, preventing disease progression, and preparing for and protecting a transplant), and becoming empowered (comprehending paradoxes, finding solutions, and mastering change and demands). Limitations Limited data in non-English languages and low-income settings and for adults with CKD not treated with hemodialysis. Conclusions Dietary and fluid restrictions are disorienting and an intense burden for patients with CKD. Patient-prioritized education strategies, harnessing patients' motivation to stay well for a transplant or to avoid dialysis, and viewing adaptation to restrictions as a collaborative journey are suggested strategies to help patients adjust to dietary regimens in order to reduce their impact on quality of life.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)559-573
Number of pages15
JournalAmerican Journal of Kidney Diseases
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2015


  • Chronic kidney disease (CKD)
  • dialysis
  • diet
  • fluid management
  • kidney transplant
  • patient perspective.
  • patient-centered care
  • qualitative research
  • renal replacement therapy (RRT)
  • thematic synthesis
  • treatment adherence


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