Cognitive impairment is common in haemodialysis patients and is associated with increased hospitalization and mortality. However, subjective cognitive complaints (SCCs), the self-experienced difficulties in everyday cognitive activities, remain poorly understood. This study examined the prevalence and course of SCCs in haemodialysis patients and its longitudinal associations with sociodemographic, clinical and patient-reported variables.
Observational prospective study with baseline and 12-month follow-up assessment.
Based on a validated cut-off point on the Kidney Disease Quality of Life Cognitive Function subscale, haemodialysis patients (N = 159; 40.3% female, mean age 53.62) were classified into cognitive complaint trajectories: (1) resilient (60.4%; no/low SCCs throughout); (2) persistent (8.8%; stable high SCCs); (3) deterioration (17.6%; from no/low to high SCCs); and (4) recovery (13.2%; from high to no/low SCCs). Sociodemographic/clinical characteristics, self-efficacy, self-management skills, adherence, mood and biochemical assays were measured at both assessments and compared among trajectories using mixed ANOVAs.
Interaction effects indicated significant improvements in the recovery group in clinical outcomes (i.e., decreased phosphorus and calcium-phosphorus product), self-efficacy and mood over time. Group effects indicated significantly poorer self-efficacy, self-management skills and adherence in the persistent group than other trajectories across both assessments. None of the sociodemographic/clinical characteristics was associated with SCC trajectories.
The extent of SCCs vary over time across haemodialysis patients. Routine screening of SCCs in dialysis settings may help identifying patients at risk of poor self-management and worse prognosis. Strategies that compensate for cognitive lapses may mitigate the perceived cognitive burden of this population.