Rationale & Objective: Dialysis patients judge health-related quality of life (HRQoL) as an essential outcome. Remarkably, little is known about HRQoL differences between home dialysis and in-center hemodialysis (HD) patients worldwide.
Study Design: Systematic review and meta-analysis.
Setting & Study Populations: Search strategies were performed on the Cochrane Library, Pubmed, and EMBASE databases between 2007 and 2019. Home dialysis was defined as both peritoneal dialysis and home HD.
Selection Criteria for Studies: Randomized controlled trials and observational studies that compared HRQoL in home dialysis patients versus in-center HD patients.
Data Extraction: The data extracted by 2 authors included HRQoL scores of different questionnaires, dialysis modality, and subcontinent.
Analytical Approach: Data were pooled using a random-effects model and results were expressed as standardized mean difference (SMD) with 95% CIs. Heterogeneity was explored using subgroup analyses.
Results: Forty-six articles reporting on 41 study populations were identified. Most studies were cross-sectional in design (90%), conducted on peritoneal dialysis patients (95%), and used the 12-item or 36-item Short-Form Health Survey questionnaires (83%). More than half the studies showed moderate or high risk of bias. Pooled analysis of 4,158 home dialysis patients and 7,854 in-center HD patients showed marginally better physical HRQoL scores in home dialysis patients compared with in-center HD patients (SMD, 0.14; 95% CI, 0.04 to 0.24), although heterogeneity was high (I 2>80%). In a subgroup analysis, Western European home dialysis patients had higher physical HRQoL scores (SMD, 0.39; 95% CI, 0.17 to 0.61), while home dialysis patients from Latin America had lower physical scores (SMD, -0.20; 95% CI, -0.28 to -0.12). Mental HRQoL showed no difference in all analyses.
Limitations: No randomized controlled trials were found and high heterogeneity among studies existed.
Conclusions: Although pooled data showed marginally better physical HRQoL for home dialysis patients, the quality of design of the included studies was poor. Large prospective studies with adequate adjustments for confounders are necessary to establish whether home dialysis results in better HRQoL.
Trial Registration: PROSPERO 95985.