Unmet Palliative Care Needs Among Patients With End-Stage Kidney Disease: A National Registry Study About the Last Week of Life

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Context: End-stage kidney disease (ESKD) is characterized by high physical and psychological burden, and therefore, more knowledge about the palliative care provided close to death is needed. Objectives: To describe symptom prevalence, relief, and management during the last week of life, as well as end-of-life communication, in patients with ESKD. Methods: This study was based on data from the Swedish Register of Palliative Care. Patients aged 18 or older who died from a chronic kidney disease, with or without dialysis treatment (International Classification of Diseases, Tenth Revision, Sweden; N18.5 or N18.9), during 2011 and 2012 were selected. Results: About 472 patients were included. Of six predefined symptoms, pain was the most prevalent (69%), followed by respiratory secretion (46%), anxiety (41%), confusion (30%), shortness of breath (22%), and nausea (17%). Of patients with pain and/or anxiety, 32% and 44%, respectively, were only partly relieved or not relieved at all. Of patients with the other symptoms, a majority (55%-84%) were partly relieved or not relieved at all. End-of-life discussions were reported in 41% of patients and 71% of families. A minority died in specialized palliative care: 8% in hospice/inpatient palliative care and 5% in palliative home care. Of all patients, 19% died alone. Bereavement support was offered to 38% of families. Conclusion: Even if death is expected, most patients dying with ESKD had unmet palliative care needs regarding symptom management, advance care planning, and bereavement support.


External organisations
  • Linnaeus University
  • Sophiahemmet University
  • Skåne University Hospital
  • Sahlgrenska Academy
  • Region Skåne
  • Kalmar County Hospital
  • Ersta Sköndal University College
  • Region Kronoberg
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Health Care Service and Management, Health Policy and Services and Health Economy


  • Dialysis, End of life, End-stage kidney disease, Palliative care, Registries, Symptom
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)236-244
JournalJournal of Pain and Symptom Management
Issue number2
Early online date2017
Publication statusPublished - 2018
Publication categoryResearch