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The role of subjective cognitive complaints in self‑management among haemodialysis patients: a cross‑sectional study

Chan, F. H. F., Newman, S. P. ORCID: 0000-0001-6712-6079, Khan, B. A. & Griva, K. (2022). The role of subjective cognitive complaints in self‑management among haemodialysis patients: a cross‑sectional study. BMC Nephrology, 23(1), article number 363. doi: 10.1186/s12882-022-02994-2


Subjective cognitive complaints refer to self-experienced difficulties with everyday cognitive tasks. Although there has been a fair amount of research on cognitive impairments and cognitive complaints in end-stage renal disease, the practical implications of these complaints remain unclear. The current study aims to examine the associations of cognitive complaints with sociodemographic and clinical variables, mood, as well as key patient-reported outcomes, i.e., self-efficacy, self-management skills, and treatment adherence.

A total of 305 haemodialysis patients (mean age = 53.97 years, 42.6% female) completed the Kidney Disease Quality of Life Cognitive Function subscale, a brief measure of cognitive complaints. The recommended cut-off point of 60 was used to identify probable cognitive impairment. Measures of self-efficacy, self-management skills (i.e., symptom coping, health monitoring, health service navigation), treatment adherence, and mood symptoms were also administered. Between-group comparisons and correlational analyses were performed to examine associations of cognitive complaints with sociodemographic, clinical, and health behaviour variables. Mediation analyses were also conducted to investigate the mediating role of self-efficacy on the relationship between cognitive complaints and treatment adherence.

Nearly a quarter (23.0%) of haemodialysis patients reported cognitive complaints indicative of clinical impairments. Risk of probable impairments was higher for patients with hypertension, diabetes, those diagnosed with end-stage renal disease at an older age, and those with shorter time on dialysis. Subjective cognitive complaints (both rates of probable impairments as per cut-off and continuous scores) were significantly associated with lower disease and treatment self-efficacy, poorer self-management skills, lower treatment adherence, as well as higher symptoms of distress. Mediation analysis indicated that treatment self-efficacy mediated the relationship between cognitive complaints and treatment adherence.

The current study demonstrated the clinical characteristics of haemodialysis patients who report cognitive complaints indicative of probable cognitive impairments and showed the associations of these complaints with self-management outcomes. Future studies should adopt more comprehensive measures of cognitive complaints and longitudinal designs to confirm the current findings.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article's Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit
Publisher Keywords: End-stage renal disease, Haemodialysis, Cognitive impairments, Subjective cognitive complaints, Selfefficacy, Treatment adherence, Self-management
Subjects: R Medicine > RC Internal medicine
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Healthcare Services Research & Management
SWORD Depositor:
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