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November 1995, Volume 45, Issue 11

Original Article

Non-Compliance to Diet and Fluid Restrictions in Haemodialysis Patients

Nilofer Safdar  ( The Kidney Centre, Karachi. )
Humera Baakza  ( The Kidney Centre, Karachi. )
Haren Kumar  ( The Kidney Centre, Karachi. )
S. A. J. Naqvi  ( The Kidney Centre, Karachi. )


Compliance with fluid and dietary instructions is a critically significant factorin the health and well-being of haemodialysis patients. Serial measurement of serum potassium (K) and interdialytic weight gain (IWG) were carried out in 50 haemodialysis patients at the Kidney Centre over a period of one month. Sixty-two percent were males. Ages ranged from 19-69 years (mean 49 years). Duration on dialysis varied from 6 months to 9 years. Patients with an IWG >1.5 Kg and/or serum K >5.5 m Eq/L were defined as non-compliant. Thirty-two patients (64%) were non-compliant in either diet or fluid. In 13 of these cases, both serum K and IWG were elevated. In the remaining 19, only one value was high. Predictors of non-com­pliance to diet and fluid regimens were older age (81%), males (68%), less education (75%), single (90%) depression (59%) and not feeling responsible for one’s own well- being (85%). Attempts to improve compliance should be aimed by exposing the non-compliant group to nutritional and psychosocial therapy. (JPMA 45:293, 1995).


Successful treatment of End-stage renal disease (ESRD) patients by haemodialysis requires the cooperation of the patient in maintaining a strict diet, restricting fluid and taking medications regularly1. It has been reported that between 20 to 78% of the haemodialysed patients are non-compliant to their diet and fluid therapy because of the alteration in their long-standing personal habits and life style2,3. The most frequent measure of compliance are interdialytic weight gain (IWG), serum potassium (K), blood urea nitrogen ‘SUN) and serum phos­phate1,3,4. Non-adherence to diet and d restrictions in these cases can result in serious complicanons like hyper kalemia and fluid overload3-5. Present study was conducted to identify the non- compliant group and the factors associated with non-compliance.

Patients and Methods

After informed consent, fifty patients of ESRD on maintenance haemodialysis for more than 6 months at the Kidney Centre were included in the study. All patients were on twice a week schedule, each of 4 hours duration on Baxter SPS 450+550 haemodialysis machine using hollow - fiber dia­lyzer. An acetate dialysate in the ratio of 1:34 was prepared using water from reverse osmosis water treatment plant. The demographic and psychosocial data and dietary pattern of these patients were reviewed individually through a questionnaire-cum-interview technique. The impact offinan­cial status and education on the degree of compliance was evaluated by socio-economic history and educational level. Information regarding dialysis variables were recorded from medical record of individual patients. For each patient a weekly predialysis serum K+ was measured by Flame pho­tometer over one month and the mean was used as the actual value. IWG was calculated as the increase in weight during the period between two consecutive dialysis sessions. The mean of 4 IWG values, recorded for one month was calculated Patients with an IWO >i.5 Kg (norm: 0.5 Kg/day) and/or serum K+ >5.5 mEq/L (Norm: 3.5-5.2 mEq/L)weredefined as non-compliant5.


Of fifty patients studied, 31 were males and 19 females with ages between 19-69 years (mean 49 years). The duration of dialysis ranged fmm 6 months to 9 years with a mean of 23 months. The socio-demographic detail of the subjects is summa­rized in Table I.

Main causes of ESRD were chronic glomemlonephritis (40%), diabetes (26%) and hypertension (18%). Thirty-two patients (64%) were non-compliant in either diet or fluid or both. In 13 (41%) of these patients both, IWG and serum K+ were high. In the remaining 19(59%) only one value was elevated (IWG-84%, K+ - 16%) The demographic variables associated with any meas­ure of compliance were age, sex, education and mantal status. Non- compliance was more in males (68%), elderly (8 1%), unmarried patients (90%) whose educational level was matric or below (75%). Income was not significantly related with non-compliance (figure 1).

Compliance was good in females (58%), younger age patients (52%), married individuals (57%) and well-educated patients (55%). Of those, who were on dialysis for less than a year, 60% were non-compliant, as compared to 66% on dialysis for more than a year, indicating that compliance was not related to duration on dialysis. Patients with an external locus of control, that is, those who do not hold responsibility for their well-being, are most difficult mad hering to dietary and fluid restrictions (Figure 2).

Depression was a strong predictor of non-compliance. 0129 patients who were depressed, 17(59%) were non-com­pliant in either diet or fluid prescription.

Table II shows the association between the patients knowledge of their diet and fluid regimen and the level of compliance. Patients (48%) perceived a high level of difficulty in following fluid restrictions. It was seen that 34(68%) of 50 patients did not measure their fluid intake. This could also be a reason for fluid non-compliance.


Chronic haemodialysis setup is ideal for studying the problems of non-compliance and abuse of the medical regimen. The treatment is long-term and contact with the patient is prolonged and intensive. The medical regimen of dialysis is usually very clear cut, therefore, some aspects of compliance can be checked by objective measures. The findings of the current study indicate that diet and fluid non-compliance is common among our haemodialysis patients (64%). Similar results have been reported by oth­ers2,4,6,7. Compliance in haemodialysis is multidimensional including age, sex, duration on dialysis, economic and psycho-social factors1,2. In this study, the most non-compliant patients were the ones who were older (81%), males (68%) and less educated (75%). This is slightly different from the West where predictors of non- compliance are younger age1,3,8,9, lower income2 and higher educational levels3. Everett et al3 reported male sex as a strong predictor of non-compliance, thereby supporting our results. According to Hoover2, patients receiving dialysis over a longer period tend to become more compliant, whereas in our study, there was no significant difference between the two groups (<1 year [60%] and> 1 year [66%]). The reason could be that the dialysis unit at the Kidney Centre has not been in operation for a long time. Spouse support is a positive predictor of compliance2,10. Similar results were seen in the present study. Patients with an internal locus of control are more compliant as they recognize their own responsibility for their well being2,3,11,12. . Same was true in this study. Depression among ESRD patients is a common re­sponse to the haemodialysis regimen7 and may reduce treatment adhering, coping behaviours2,3. Non-compliance in 59% patients in the present study confirms this finding. Our results showed no significant relationship between knowledge of prescribed diet and fluid regimen and non-com­pliance. Various studies2,3 support this finding while others2,5 show a strong positive relationship. Patients find it difficult to follow’ fluid restrictions5. Reducing the perceived difficulty by using cognitive and behavioural strategies may help to increase compliance. Patient non-compliance remains a very significant threat to the efficacy of the dialysis regimenas well as to the well-being and survival of the patients. The findings of this study indicate the need for increasing the patient’s awareness to their dietary regimens, reducing their perceived compliance difficulties and improving treatment coping behaviour. This can be achieved through specialized nutritional, educational inter­ventions along with continuous psychosocial support. This is more important in our setting as we are already under dialysing patients, twice weekly. because of economic constraints.


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2. Hoover, H. Compliance in hemodialysis patients: A review of the literature. J. Am. Diet. Assoc., 1989;89:957-59.
3. Everett, K.D., Sletten, C., Carmack, C. etal. Predicting non- compliance to fluid restrictions in hemodialysis patients. Dialysis Transplant., 1993;22:6l 4-21.
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5. Chan, C. Y. and Greene, G. W. Dietary compliance among young hemodialysis patients. Dialysis Transplant., 1994;23: 184-89.
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8. Avarin, MR., Pens, C.; Burrell, D. et al. Hemodialysis and the elderly patient. Potential advantages as to quality of life, urea generation, serum creatinine and less interdialytic weight gain. Am. J. Kidney Dia., 1990;4:342-45.
9. Morduchowicz, G., Winkler, J., Derazne, E. et aL Causes of death in patients with end-stage renal disease treated by dialysis. Isr. J Med. Sci., 1992,28(11 ):776-79.
10. Snetselaar. L. Achieving patient compliance to dietary prescriptions. Renal Nutrition. Report of the Eleventh Ross Roundtable on Medical Issues. Columbus, OH: Ross Laboratories, 1991. pp. 100-101.
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12. Schneider, MS.. Friend, R., Whitaker, P. et al. Fluid non- compliance and symptomatology in end-stage renal disease: conginitive and emotional van­ables. Health Psychol., 1991; 10:209-215.

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