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Depression, Pain Especially Harmful for Kidney Patients

Update Date: Jul 31, 2014 05:30 PM EDT

Depression and pain is especially harmful for dialysis patients, according to a new study. New research reveals that feeling down or in pain could seriously affect the health of kidney patients and raise the need for costly medical services.

Researchers in the latest study wanted to see if antidepressant and analgesic therapies could help improve outcomes and cut costs.

The latest study, which involved 286 dialysis patients who completed surveys every month for 24 months between 2009 and 2011, found that depressive symptoms increased the risk of missing dialysis treatments by 21 percent. They also raise the risk of emergency departments visits by 24 percent, hospitalization rates by 19 percent and mortality by 40 percent.

The study also shows that those with severe pain were 16 percent more likely to undergo abbreviated dialysis treatments, visit the emergency department and be hospitalized.

"Patients receiving chronic hemodialysis experience a very high burden of physical and emotional symptoms. While not all symptoms are easily treated, there are effective therapies for depressive symptoms and pain," said Dr. Weisbord. "These findings underscore the need to determine whether the effective treatment of these symptoms, in addition to making patients feel better, can also reduce utilization of healthcare resources and costs and improve patient-centered outcomes," lead researcher Steven Weisbord, MD, MSc, of VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System, said in a news release.

The findings are published in the Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology (CJASN). 

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