End-stage kidney disease (ESKD) incidence has been increasing over time, contributing significantly to morbidity and mortality. However, there is limited data examining the psychosocial factors affecting people with ESKD and how the social worker fits within the multidisciplinary CKD care. This integrative systematic review aims to summarise the existing evidence on psychosocial determinants of outcomes in ESKD and the role of the social worker in nephrology care.
The literature search was conducted using PubMed and MEDLINE, targeting articles published from database inception until May 2021. This systematic review was performed in compliance with the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) statement. The Joanna Briggs Institute tools were employed to assess the quality of included studies.
Of the 397 citations, 13 studies applicable to 1465 patients met the inclusion criteria. The studies were of cross-sectional, experimental, and exploratory qualitative design in nature. The findings of the studies were summarised into three major themes-psychosocial factors, role of the renal social worker, and impact of the renal social worker. The studies demonstrated that concerns related to adjustment, death and dying, family and social functioning, and loss were common amongst participants of the included studies indicating the need for a social worker. Three studies explored the impact of social workers in ESKD, revealing that people who received support from social workers had an improved quality of life, lower depression scores, and reduced hospitalisations and emergency room visits.
This review summarizes the multitude of physical and psychological stressors that patients with ESRD face, and highlights the positive role social workers can play in improving the psychosocial stressors in this patient group, and the need for large-scale randomised trials to understand the role of social workers as part of a multidisciplinary nephrology care.