By Sylvia Foley, AJN senior editor

It’s estimated that depression afflicts between 25% and 50% of people who have chronic kidney disease. And depression has been associated with numerous adverse outcomes in this population, including poor sleep, reduced quality of life, and higher rates of hospitalization and death. Researchers Siou-Hung Tsai and colleagues wanted to know whether teaching patients a basic relaxation technique—deep, slow breathing—could alleviate depressive symptoms.

To learn more, they developed a four-week intervention and conducted a trial. The intervention included instruction by a dialysis nurse trained in deep breathing techniques, additional audio device–guided instruction, and guided exercises. The authors report on their findings in this month’s CE–Original Research feature, “The Efficacy of a Nurse-Led Breathing Training Program in Reducing Depressive Symptoms in Patients on Hemodialysis.” Here’s a brief summary.

Objectives: The purpose of this randomized controlled trial was to examine the efficacy of a nurse-led, in-center breathing training program in reducing depressive symptoms and improving sleep quality and health-related quality of life in patients on maintenance hemodialysis.
Methods: Fifty-seven patients on hemodialysis were randomly assigned either to an eight-session breathing training group or to a control group. The Beck Depression Inventory II (BDI-II), the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI), and the Medical Outcome Studies 36-Item Short Form Health Survey (SF-36) were used to assess self-reported depressive symptoms, sleep quality, and health-related quality of life, respectively.
Results: The intervention group exhibited significantly greater decreases in BDI-II scores than did the control group. No significant differences in PSQI change scores were observed between the groups. SF-36 change scores for both the domain of role limitation due to emotional problems and the mental component summary were significantly higher in the intervention group than in the control group.
Conclusion: This intervention significantly alleviated depressive symptoms, reduced perceived role limitation due to emotional problems, and improved the overall mental health component of quality of life in patients on maintenance hemodialysis.

Pointing to the intervention’s simple design and ease of implementation, the authors note that it offers nurses “a novel way to relieve depression in and offer psychological support to a vulnerable population.” For more details, read the article, which is free online.

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