The SF-36, a generic measure of 8 domains of health-related quality of life (HRQOL), has been widely used to examine HRQOL of end-stage renal disease (ESRD) patients undergoing hemodialysis (HD). The current study synthesizes existing literature to examine which SF-36 domains capture the largest burden in this patient population.
A literature search of published studies that presented descriptive statistics for baseline SF-36 scale scores from HD patients was conducted. Disease burden was estimated by comparing HD patients’ SF-36 scores to those from either a control group or a general population normative sample taken from the same country. For each study, Cohen d effect sizes for between-sample differences were calculated for each scale.
Twenty-six articles that matched set criteria were identified. Estimation of differences between HD patients and comparison groups showed that the SF-36 physical functioning scale yielded the largest weighted mean effect size across studies (d = 1.46), followed by the general health (d = 1.29) and role physical (d = 1.21) scales.
Among the eight domains of the SF-36, physical functioning, general health, and role physical scales best captured disease burden for HD patients. The disease burden negatively impacts physical HRQOL more strongly than mental HRQOL.