Socializing Between Professionals and Patients in a Dialysis Unit Can Improve Patient Health

Washington, DC (May 10, 2012) - General discussion about lifestyle may be effective in stabilizing and improving lab values, according to new research presented at the National Kidney Foundation’s Spring Clinical Meetings held here this week.

Researchers led by Judith Beto, PhD of Loyola University Health Systems in Maywood, Illinois, found that “talking control” therapy, which is comparable to befriending, helped stabilize and in many cases, improve lab values in hemodialysis patients.

In the first study to evaluate the effect of talking control on getting better, researchers analyzed data from general conversations about lifestyle, with no specific education goal, held with 49 patients during hemodialysis sessions. A “getting better” rolling cart, that included games, brochures, food, small notebooks, was used to provide talking points. Discussion covered life on dialysis and problems were addressed as a conversation among friends. Results showed 24% stabilization and 76% improvement in three lab values—albumin, phosphorus and parathyroid hormone levels.

“These findings underscore the importance of connecting with patients on a more global level—not just to ‘talk shop’ about their treatment. As more people use social media to connect with others, it’s important that professionals learn to share information, rather than deliver it. We all have a lot in common—being mothers, grandmothers, gardeners, scrabble-players, etc… When we used this to our advantage by connecting with patients and sharing about ourselves as we shared health information, we found that their health actually improved,” said Beto.

This study has implications for practice, as “professionals can create a more collaborative effort. Patients can be members of the health care team if we invite them to join us and learn their life stories, not just their medical history. This innovative approach to education has tremendous potential for improvements in quality of life as well as health,” said Lynda Szczech, MD, National Kidney Foundation President.

The National Kidney Foundation is dedicated to preventing and treating kidney disease, improving the health and well being of individuals and families affected by these diseases and increasing availability of all organs for transplantation. For more information visit