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Vascular access-specific health-related quality of life impacts among hemodialysis patients: qualitative development of the hemodialysis access-related quality of life (HARQ) instrument.

  • Author(s): Nordyke, Robert J;
  • Nicholson, Gina;
  • Gage, Shawn M;
  • Lithgow, Ted;
  • Himmelfarb, Jonathan;
  • Rivara, Matthew B;
  • Hays, Ron D;
  • Woo, Karen;
  • Peipert, John Devin
  • et al.


End stage kidney disease and hemodialysis dependence are associated with impairments in health-related quality of life (HRQOL), which may be related to vascular access (VA). Few HRQOL measures are VA-specific and none differentiate HRQOL impact by VA type. We developed a VA-targeted HRQOL measure to distinguish the impact of fistulas, grafts and catheters.


We created an initial item pool based on literature review and then conducted focus groups at 4 US sites with 37 adults and interviews with nine dialysis clinicians about VA's impact on HRQOL. We then drafted the Hemodialysis Access-Related Quality of Life (HARQ) measure and cognitively tested it with 17 hemodialysis patients. Focus group and cognitive interview participants were diverse in age, gender, years on dialysis, and VA.


We identified six domains for the HARQ: symptoms, physical functioning, emotional impacts, social and role functioning, sleep, and care-related burdens. Cognitive interviews indicated that items were easily understood and supported content validity. Attributing HRQOL impact to VA as opposed to other hemodialysis burden was challenging for some items. Some items were dropped that were considered redundant by patients, limitations while dressing was added, and reference to VA-specific impact was included for each item. The average Flesch-Kincaid reading grade level for the revised 47-item HARQ was 5.3.


The HARQ features VA-specific content not addressed in other HRQOL measures, making it ideal for comparisons of different VA types and new VA technologies. The psychometric properties of the HARQ will be evaluated in future research.

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