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Decision-making experiences of patients with end-stage kidney disease (ESKD) regarding treatment in Ghana: a qualitative study

Boateng, Edward Appiah; East, Linda; Evans, Catrin


Edward Appiah Boateng

Linda East

Professor of Evidence Based Healthcare


Background: This is the first qualitative study to explore patient decision-making regarding end-stage kidney disease (ESKD) treatment in sub-Saharan Africa. The study addresses an important gap in the literature concerning choice and decision-making in an international context.
Methods: The study employed a qualitative research design, using grounded theory methodology. In-depth interviews were conducted with twenty-two adult patients with ESKD in 3 clinical settings in Ghana. Data analysis involved coding and a constant comparative approach to generate key themes. Ethical approval was gained from relevant ethics committees both in Ghana and the United Kingdom.
Results: Four main factors (personal, financial, healthcare system, and support network) were identified to influence patient decision-making regarding ESKD treatment in Ghana. Treatment was initiated for various reasons, including, initially, the urgent need to avoid premature death. Many approached their condition hoping for a cure and did not always understand the chronic nature of their condition. Financial and geographical inaccessibility of renal replacement therapy (RRT), as well as a relative lack of biomedical treatment choices, made decision making daunting for the individual with ESKD in Ghana. The subject of death or conservative management was not openly discussed. Rather patients did everything possible to seek alternative forms of treatment, including the simultaneous use of other non- RRT and traditional or faith-based healing approaches.
Conclusions: Whilst similarities exist, this study illuminates stark cultural and contextual differences which make decision-making on ESKD treatment a daunting experience for the individual with ESKD in Ghana - as compared to those in high-income countries. The challenges associated with ESKD management in Ghana calls for meticulous efforts at primary prevention of the disease, including interventions directed at effective management of diabetes mellitus, hypertension and other chronic kidney disease (CKD) precursor conditions. Enhancing information provision would promote informed decision making, particularly within the initial stages of patient decision-making.


Boateng, E. A., East, L., & Evans, C. (2018). Decision-making experiences of patients with end-stage kidney disease (ESKD) regarding treatment in Ghana: a qualitative study. BMC Nephrology, 19, Article 371.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Dec 5, 2018
Online Publication Date Dec 19, 2018
Publication Date 2018-12
Deposit Date Dec 10, 2018
Journal BMC Nephrology
Electronic ISSN 1471-2369
Publisher Springer Verlag
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 19
Article Number 371
Public URL
Publisher URL