Strong social support linked to more positive clinical outcomes among patients with CKD
Older patients with chronic kidney disease and a strong social support system are more likely to have a higher quality of life, experience less frailty and exhibit better cognitive function, a study appearing in Kidney Medicine revealed.
“Social support networks can help provide patients with the tools they need to ensure their basic needs are being met by helping with finances, housing costs, and food acquisition,” Edward Horwitz, MD, of Case Western University, and colleagues wrote. “This reinforced the need to study factors that are associated with quality of life, and social support may be one such factor that is potentially modifiable.”
In a longitudinal, multicenter study conducted between 2013 and 2015, Horwitz and colleagues examined 1,851 patients older than 65 years with mild to advanced CKD; Mean age was 71.1 years and 42.2% were women. The study gathered data through questionnaires to determine the correlation between patients’ social networks and CKD-related health factors.
Most patients reported having a strong social network, and researchers found that “higher social support in this cohort was associated with better quality of life and cognitive performance, and lower measures of frailty.”
In general, patients with more social support were more likely to be older, female, “non-Hispanic,” had a household income of more than $20,000, and who worked or volunteered.
Researchers discovered 404 patients (22%) reported having low social support, such as experiencing isolation. Social support was measured using the Lubben Social Network Scale (LSNS). Researchers used a score of less than 12 out of 30 possible points to denoted low social support
Patients with a weak social network were more likely to have impaired cognitive function, a lower quality of life and increased frailty, according to the study. These findings indicate the need for future research to examine whether modifying a patient’s social support system could improve their quality of lives and physical health.
“Studying the impact of social support on older adults with CKD may allow for better risk assessment of patients who are newly diagnosed, as well as facilitate the creation of social support based on interventions that could potentially improve clinical outcomes,” Horwitz and colleagues wrote.