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Mobility in Older Adults Receiving Maintenance Hemodialysis: A Qualitative Study
American Journal of Kidney Diseases  (IF8.86),  Pub Date : 2021-08-20, DOI: 10.1053/j.ajkd.2021.07.010
Christine K. Liu, Janet Seo, Dayeun Lee, Kristen Wright, Manjula Kurella Tamura, Jennifer A. Moye, Jonathan F. Bean, Daniel E. Weiner

Rationale & Objective

For older adults, maintaining mobility is a major priority, especially for those with advanced chronic diseases like kidney failure. However, our understanding of the factors affecting mobility in older adults receiving maintenance hemodialysis is limited.

Study Design

Descriptive qualitative study.

Setting and participants

Using purposive sampling, we recruited 1) persons aged ≥ 60 years receiving maintenance hemodialysis and 2) care partners (≥ 18 years) providing regular support to an older adult receiving hemodialysis. During a single in-person home visit, we assessed mobility using the Short Physical Performance Battery (SPPB) and conducted individual one-on-one interviews regarding important personal factors related to mobility.

Analytic approach

Descriptive statistics were used for demographic and SPPB data. Transcripts underwent thematic coding, informed by the International Classification of Function framework of mobility. We used conceptual content analysis to inductively extract themes and subthemes.


We enrolled 31 older adults receiving hemodialysis (42% female, 68% Black) with mean age of 73±8 years and mean dialysis duration of 4.6±3.5 years; mean SPPB was 3.6±2.8 points. Among 12 care partners (75% female, 33% Black), mean age was 54±16 years and mean SPPB was 10.1±2.4 points. Major themes extracted were: 1) mobility represents independence; 2) mobility is precarious; 3) limitations in mobility cause distress; 4) sources of encouragement and motivation are critical; and 5) adaptability is key.


Modest sample from single geographic area.


For older adults receiving hemodialysis, mobility is severely limited and is often precarious in nature, causing distress. Older adults receiving hemodialysis and their care partners have identified sources of encouragement and motivation for mobility, and cite an adaptable mindset as important. Future studies should conceptualize mobility as a variable condition, and build upon this outlook of adaptability in the development of interventions.