|Authors||Fielding, C., Bramley, L., Stalker, C., Brand, S., Toft, S. and Buchanan, H.|
Cannulation is an essential part of haemodialysis with arteriovenous access. Patients’ experiences of cannulation for haemodialysis are problematic but poorly understood. This review aims to synthesise findings related to patients’ experiences of cannulation for haemodialysis from qualitative studies, providing a fuller description of this phenomenon.
Eligibility criteria defined the inclusion of studies with a population of patients with end-stage kidney disease on haemodialysis. The phenomena of interest was findings related to patients’ experiences of cannulation for haemodialysis and the context was both in-centre and home haemodialysis. MedLine, CINAHL, EMBASE, EMCARE, BNI, PsycInfo and PubMed were last searched between 20/05/2019 and 23/05/2019. The quality of studies was assessed using the using Joanna Briggs Critical Appraisal Checklist for Qualitative Research. Meta-aggregation was used to synthesise findings and CERQual to assess the strength of accumulated findings.
This review included 26 studies. The subject of included studies covered cannulation, pain, experiences of vascular access, experiences of haemodialysis and a research priority setting exercise. From these studies, three themes were meta-aggregated: (1) Cannulation for haemodialysis is an unpleasant, abnormal and unique procedure associated with pain, abnormal appearance, vulnerability and dependency. (2) The necessity of cannulation for haemodialysis emphasises the unpleasantness of the procedure. Success had multiple meanings for patients and patients worry about whether the needle insertion will be successful. (3) Patients survive unpleasant, necessary and repetitive cannulation by learning to tolerate cannulation and exerting control over the procedure. Feeling safe can help them tolerate cannulation better and the cannulator can invoke feeling safe. However, some patients still avoid cannulation, due to its unpleasantness.
Cannulation is a pervasive procedure that impacts on patients’ experiences of haemodialysis. This review illuminates further patients’ experiences of cannulation for haemodialysis, indicating how improvements can be made to cannulation.