American Journal of Kidney Diseases

Hemodialysis Self-management Intervention Randomized Trial (HED-SMART): A Practical Low-Intensity Intervention to Improve Adherence and Clinical Markers in Patients Receiving Hemodialysis

Published:November 30, 2017DOI:


      Poor adherence to treatment is common in hemodialysis patients. However, effective interventions for adherence in this population are lacking. Small studies of behavioral interventions have yielded improvements, but clinical effectiveness and long-term effects are unclear.

      Study Design

      Multicenter parallel (1:1) design, blinded cluster-randomized controlled trial.

      Setting & Participants

      Patients undergoing maintenance hemodialysis enrolled in 14 dialysis centers.


      Dialysis shifts of eligible patients were randomly assigned to either an interactive and targeted self-management training program (HED-SMART; intervention; n = 134) or usual care (control; n = 101). HED-SMART, developed using the principles of problem solving and social learning theory, was delivered in a group format by health care professionals over 4 sessions.

      Outcomes & Measurements

      Serum potassium and phosphate concentrations, interdialytic weight gains (IDWGs), self-reported adherence, and self-management skills at 1 week, 3 months, and 9 months postintervention.


      235 participants were enrolled in the study (response rate, 44.2%), and 82.1% completed the protocol. IDWG was significantly lowered across all 3 assessments relative to baseline (P < 0.001) among patients randomly assigned to HED-SMART. In contrast, IDWG in controls showed no change except at 3 months, when it worsened significantly. Improvements in mineral markers were noted in the HED-SMART arm at 3 months (P < 0.001) and in potassium concentrations (P < 0.001) at 9 months. Phosphate concentrations improved in HED-SMART at 3 months (P = 0.03), but these effects were not maintained at 9 months postintervention. Significant differences between the arms were found for the secondary outcomes of self-reported adherence, self-management skills, and self-efficacy at all time points.


      Low proportion of patients with diabetes.


      HED-SMART provides an effective and practical model for improving health in hemodialysis patients. The observed improvements in clinical markers and self-report adherence, if maintained at the longer follow-up, could significantly reduce end-stage renal disease−related complications. Given the feasibility of this kind of program, it has strong potential for supplementing usual care.

      Trial Registration

      Registered at ISRCTN with study number ISRCTN31434033.

      Index Words

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