Psychosocial Health and Lifestyle Behaviors in Young Adults Receiving Renal Replacement Therapy Compared to the General Population: Findings From the SPEAK Study

Alexander J. Hamilton*, Fergus J. Caskey, Anna Casula, Yoav Ben-Shlomo, Carol D. Inward

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)
194 Downloads (Pure)


RATIONALE & OBJECTIVE: Patients in late adolescence and early adulthood receiving renal replacement therapy (RRT) face disruption to normal activities, which affects well-being. We aimed to define psychosocial and lifestyle outcomes for young adults on RRT compared to the general population.

STUDY DESIGN: We undertook a cross-sectional survey (the SPEAK [Surveying Patients Experiencing Young Adult Kidney Failure] Study) using validated measures and general population comparator data from the Health Survey for England and Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children. Additional clinical information was obtained from the UK Renal Registry.

SETTING & PARTICIPANTS: 16- to 30-year-olds receiving RRT.

OUTCOMES: Psychosocial health and lifestyle behaviors.

ANALYTICAL APPROACH: We compared outcomes between populations using age- and sex-adjusted regression models, weighted to account for response bias by sex, ethnicity, and socioeconomic status. Our findings were used to update recent meta-analyses.

RESULTS: We recruited 976 young adults and 64% responded to the survey: 417 (71%) with kidney transplants and 173 (29%) on dialysis therapy. Compared to the general population, young adults on RRT were less likely to be in a relationship and have children and more likely to live in the family home, receive no income, and be unable to work due to health. They had poorer quality of life, worse well-being, and twice the likelihood of a psychological disturbance (OR, 2.7; 95% CI, 2.0-3.7; P<0.001). They reported less smoking, alcohol and drug abuse, and crime. In a meta-analysis, our study showed the greatest differences in quality of life compared to the general population.

LIMITATIONS: Cross-sectional study design, meaning that we could not track the impact of treatment changes on the outcomes.

CONCLUSIONS: This study involving a large cohort of young adult transplant recipients and dialysis patients provides evidence of worse psychosocial outcomes but more positive lifestyle behaviors in young adults on RRT compared to the age-matched general population.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)194-205
Number of pages12
JournalAmerican Journal of Kidney Diseases
Issue number2
Early online date4 Oct 2018
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2019


  • adolescent
  • chronic disease
  • dialysis
  • disease burden
  • education
  • employment
  • end-stage renal disease (ESRD)
  • kidney failure
  • kidney transplantation
  • lifestyle
  • lifestyle disruption
  • mental health
  • quality of life (QOL)
  • relationships
  • renal replacement therapy (RRT)
  • survey
  • Young adult
  • youth


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