Journal Article

Event-related distress in kidney disease patients

Sarah Ramer, Anne Germain, Sheena Dohar and Mark Unruh

in Nephrology Dialysis Transplantation

Published on behalf of European Renal Association - European Dialysis and Transplant Assoc

Volume 27, issue 1, pages 299-303
Published in print January 2012 | ISSN: 0931-0509
Published online May 2011 | e-ISSN: 1460-2385 | DOI:
Event-related distress in kidney disease patients

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Non-dialysis-dependent chronic kidney disease (CKD) and dialysis-dependent Stage 5 CKD (CKD5) are associated with a significant physical and psychosocial burden. Little is known, however, about the impact of stressful life events on CKD and CKD5 patients. This study aimed to determine the prevalence of stressful life events in CKD and CKD5 patients and identify the factors correlated with high levels of event-related distress.


This cross-sectional study’s sample consisted of 181 patients (91 with non-dialysis-dependent CKD Stages 4 and 5, 90 with CKD5) who filled out the Impact of Event Scale (IES), which measures subjective distress related to stressful life events. Other measures included scores from the Medical Outcomes Study Short Form-36, Patient Health Questionnaire-9 (PHQ-9) and Dialysis Symptom Index (DSI).


One hundred and three subjects reported stressors on the IES. Almost half the stressors (49.5%) related to personal health; the rest fell into other categories. There were significant differences between the no stressor, low event-related distress and high event-related distress groups in age (P < 0.001), PHQ-9 score (P < 0.001) and DSI score (P = 0.002). After adjustment, PHQ-9 score was associated with high event-related distress [odds ratio (OR) 1.20, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.10–1.32], as was DSI score (OR 1.04, 95% CI 1.02–1.07) in a separate model.


Event-related distress is common in CKD and CKD5 patients. High event-related distress is associated with worse depressive symptoms and greater somatic and emotional symptom burden, even with adjustments for age and gender. The renal practitioner may need to address patients’ event-related distress in order to provide optimal care.

Keywords: chronic kidney disease; depression; distress; end-stage renal disease; quality of life; symptoms

Journal Article.  3720 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Nephrology

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