Context: Uremic pruritus, or itch, is common in people with chronic kidney disease (CKD) and has a negative impact on their lives and well-being. However, for reasons currently unknown, itch often remains unreported and therefore untreated. Objectives: To explore reasons for underreporting of itch to provide pointers for improving itch reporting and management in people with CKD. Methods: We interviewed adult patients with CKD who self-reported experiencing itching in the last three years (n = 25), nephrologists (n = 10), and nurses (n = 12) from three kidney services in the U.K. Topic guides were informed by previous studies and a theoretical model of self-regulation. We conducted a thematic analysis of verbatim transcripts using framework analysis. Results: We identified the following three main themes reflecting factors that may influence whether itch is reported: knowledge on causes and treatment of itch (lack of awareness of the relationship between itch and CKD, and lack of knowledge of treatment options); attitudes toward importance of itch as a health issue (patients' and clinicians' attitudes); and prompts for itch assessment during consultations (routine practice, itch as a marker, and itch severity). Conclusion: Underreporting of itch is related to patients being unaware of its causes, accepting it as something to live with, prioritizing other health issues, and the length and timing of consultations. Health care professionals' assessment and management of itch vary widely and are not necessarily evidence-based. Better patient information, development of clinical practice guidelines, and incorporation of routine symptom assessments into care may improve itch reporting and management in people with CKD.
- Chronic kidney disease
- patient-generated health data
- qualitative research
- symptom management
- uremic pruritus