Study finds interest in online dietary support among adults with kidney failure
Adults who receive maintenance hemodialysis 2 or more times per week expressed interest in an online patient community that includes access to a registered dietitian, according to survey results.
“Technology and social media have promise for helping patients with [end-stage renal disease] ESRD adhere to their prescribed diets,” Claudia Mejia, MS, CLC, of the department of allied health sciences at the University of Connecticut, and colleagues wrote. “Two-thirds of U.S. adults aged 65 years or older are online, 42% own a smartphone, and 34% use social media. Although there are many mobile apps for chronic kidney disease self-management, little is known about whether patients with ESRD are interested in using such resources.”
To investigate, the researchers recruited 100 patients, either through online platforms or who were receiving dialysis treatments at a clinic in Connecticut (mean age, 53.5 years; 48% were women; 69% were white).
In the month leading up to taking the survey, 83% of patients reported going online each day and 70% reported seeking out information online regarding kidney failure; 80% reported having a Facebook account.
All patients were asked whether they would be interested in “participating in an online community specifically designed to help [them] manage [their] kidney diet.” The online community would provide a platform for patients to discuss their kidney disease with each other, while also allowing for discussions with a registered dietician.
The researchers found that, of the total surveyed population, 46% were very/extremely interested in participating in such a community. In addition, of those who owned a tablet and/or smartphone, 39% expressed interest in using an app to communicate with a dietician.
“The majority of patients with ESRD, both those receiving help with their diet from a [registered dietician] RD and those not, reported looking online for ESRD-related information, particularly practical information such as recipes and the phosphorus and potassium content of foods, and a substantial proportion are interested in digital dietary support,” Mejia and colleagues wrote about the findings, suggesting that online interventions could provide a convenient way to connect with patients and supplement what is discussed in the clinic.
“Exploring innovative ways for RDs to communicate evidence-based information and provide support has potential for great impact,” they wrote.