Thirst distress and interdialytic weight gain: How do they relate?

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Abstract

Thirst is a frequent and stressful symptom experienced by hemodialysis patients. Several studies have noted a positive relationship between thirst and interdialytic weight gain (IDWG). These factors prompted us to consider ways that we could intervene to reduce thirst and IDWG through an educative, supportive nursing intervention. This paper presents the results of a pilot research project, the purpose of which was to: examine the relationship between thirst distress (the negative symptoms associated with thirst) and IDWG in a sample of our patients, describe patients' strategies for management of thirst, and establish the necessary sample size for the planned intervention study. The pilot research project results showed that in a small sample of 20, there was a mildly positive, though not statistically significant, correlation between thirst distress and IDWG (r = 0.117). Subjects shared a wide variety of thirst management strategies including: limiting salt intake, using ice chips, measuring daily allotment, performing mouth care, eating raw fruits and vegetables, sucking on hard candy and chewing gum. This pilot research project showed that given an alpha of 0.05 and a power of 80%, we will require a sample of 39 subjects to detect a 20% change in IDWG. We will employ these results to plan our intervention study, first by establishing the appropriate sample size and second by incorporating identified patient strategies into an educational pamphlet that will form the basis of our intervention.

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