'Looking back to my family: Indigenous Australian Patients' experience of hemodialysis

Kate Anderson, Joan Cunningham, Jeannie Devitt, Cilla Preece, Alan Cass

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    33 Citations (Scopus)


    Background: In common with Indigenous populations elsewhere, Indigenous Australians have higher incidence of end-stage kidney disease (ESKD), but lower transplantation rates than their non-Indigenous counterparts. Understanding how the demands of dialysis impact on, and are impacted by, the lives of Indigenous patients may provide important insight into treatment pathways and decision-making. Methods: We conducted semi-structured interviews in 2005-06 with 146 Indigenous and 95 non-Indigenous patients from nine hospital renal wards and 17 associated dialysis centres, which together treat the majority of ndigenous Australian ESKD patients. Results: Factors influencing treatment experience included: the impacts of late diagnosis; family separations associated with relocating for treatment; the physical and psychosocial demands of hemodialysis; and ineffective communication between health care providers and patients. Although not unique to them, Indigenous patients were more likely to experience the combined effect of all factors. Conclusions: Social/situational circumstances profoundly affect Indigenous Australian dialysis patients' ability to fully engage with treatment. This may ultimately affect their likelihood of receiving optimal treatment, including transplantation. Areas for improvement include: earlier diagnosis; improved linkages between specialist rena services and primary care in regional settings; more effective communication and patient education; and more systematic, transparent approaches to patient "compliance" in transplant and home dialysis guidelines.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article number114
    Number of pages8
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 20 Sep 2012


    • Access to healthcare
    • End stage kidney disease
    • Health communication
    • Hemodialysis
    • Indigenous Australian
    • Late diagnosis
    • Life experiences
    • Patient care
    • Qualitative research


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