DOI: 10.3390/nu16010105 ISSN: 2072-6643

Can Telehealth Improve Access to Dietary Management in Patients Receiving Dialysis? Insights from Consumers

Joanne Beer, Kelly Lambert, Wai Lim, Catherine Keane, Neil Boudville
  • Food Science
  • Nutrition and Dietetics

Timely, effective, and individualised dietary interventions are essential for patients undergoing dialysis. However, delivery of dietary advice is challenging due to limited access to renal dietitians, as well as logistic and scheduling difficulties for patients receiving dialysis. The objectives of this study were to explore consumer perspectives regarding dietary advice utilising telehealth technology. Twenty-two participants (seventeen patients receiving dialysis, five caregivers) were purposively recruited from a local dialysis centre and participated in one of three focus groups. Each focus group was recorded, transcribed, and analysed using inductive thematic analysis. One overarching theme: “a desire to learn” was apparent. The four themes that facilitated this process are herein described: Meaningful communication—a need for improved and individualised communication about diet using positively framed messages with consistency among clinicians. Conducive information—a preference for tailored, current, and clear dietary information (plain language was preferred, with practical advice on making dietary changes). Appropriate timing—health advice at the right time (consumers felt overwhelmed, not supported enough with timely advice, and experienced difficulty attending appointments in addition to dialysis treatments). Contemporary modalities—delivering information using different technologies (consumers preferred a combination of delivery methods for dietetic advice including text/SMS/App messages as an adjunct to face-to-face care). The results showed that consumers believe that telehealth options are an acceptable adjunct to receive dietary advice in a timely manner, and feedback from patients and caregivers has informed the design of a clinical trial to incorporate the use of telehealth to improve the management of serum phosphate.

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