Background: How patients choose between alternative treatments for kidney failure is poorly understood. Recent studies of chronic kidney disease report that clinical outcomes, such as life expectancy, are rarely reflected in a patient's decision for type of treatment compared with nonclinical outcomes, such as time on dialysis therapy, convenience, or impact on the family. Methods: A qualitative analysis using thematic synthesis of patient views about renal replacement therapy (RRT) was undertaken. As part of a national study of patients and renal health care providers, we interviewed 95 Australian dialysis and transplant patients to explore how they perceive these alternative treatments. Results: 52 patients were on satellite hemodialysis therapy, 8 patients were on incenter hemodialysis therapy, 8 patients were on continuous ambulatory peritoneal dialysis therapy, 5 patients were on automated peritoneal dialysis therapy, 4 patients were on home hemodialysis therapy, and 18 patients had a functioning transplant at the time of interview. Freedom, convenience, self-care, effectiveness, and simplicity were commonly cited positive characteristics, whereas confinement, risk, family burden, pain, and time commitment were negative characteristics associated with RRTs. Characteristics were not specific to dialysis modalities, and some (eg, self-care) were seen as both positive and negative. A limitation of the study was that only 17 of 77 (22%) dialysis patients interviewed were on a home-based therapy. Conclusions: Patients preferred RRTs that enhanced their freedom and autonomy and were convenient, effective, and simple. Treatments that minimized confinement and risk also were viewed positively. Our analysis suggests that patients might choose between therapies based on their perception regarding which therapy most embodies particular characteristics that minimize impact on their lifestyle. Presentation of information regarding RRTs should focus on these characteristics and the potential impact of alternative treatments on the patients and how they wish to lead their lives. © 2010 National Kidney Foundation, Inc.
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