Rationale & objective
For patients requiring in-center hemodialysis, suboptimal transportation arrangements are commonly cited as a source of ongoing stress and anxiety and have been associated with a reduced quality of life and increased mortality risk. Transportation-related problems are especially pronounced in Canada given its size, low population density, and long, often snowy winters. We aimed to identify and better understand transportation options for hemodialysis patients in Canada and to describe stakeholder experiences.
We used a qualitative descriptive research design to explore stakeholder experiences and perspectives of transportation to and from dialysis facilities.
Setting & participants
We recruited participants from a large urban hemodialysis program in Western Canada and included 11 participants from a project group, 45 participants from an open forum, and a survey of 8 social workers. Data collection occurred at a series of project group meetings and an open forum (n=45). In addition, we asked 8 renal social workers based in major cities across Canada to comment on the provision of transport for patients in their area via email or telephone consult.
We used conventional content analysis to explore stakeholder experiences.
Traveling to and from dialysis facilities remains a source of stress and anxiety for many patients and their families. Patients described several factors contributing to these feelings including: the challenges of physically getting to the treatment center, particularly in adverse weather conditions; being a burden on family and friends; difficulties accessing the treatment facility; issues with public transport; and financial worries related to high costs.
Findings may not be relevant in low- and middle-income countries and those with a warmer climate.
Without a concerted and collaborative approach to address the barriers identified here, it is likely that travel to and from in-center hemodialysis will continue to adversely affect patients’ quality of life.