Professional relationships between nephrology clinicians and patients: a systematic review.

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Nephrology nurses and patients expressed that the clinician-patient relationship in a haemodialysis (HD) unit might be best described as being part of an extended family. However, there is a risk that professional boundaries may become blurred due to the perceived closeness of this relationship.This systematic review sought to explore the experiences of nephrology clinicians in establishing and maintaining a professional relationship with people experiencing end-stage kidney disease who are receiving HD treatment.A search strategy was created using JBI systematic review guidelines for six databases (PubMed, CINAHL, EMBASE, PsycINFO, Cochrane Library and JBI library). Qualitative studies were eligible for inclusion when the participants were nephrology clinicians who provided HD treatment or management of patients in a hospital outpatient HD unit or a community HD centre.Three studies met the inclusion criteria and the findings were synthesised into two themes (1) establishing a professional relationship and (2) coping mechanisms. All three studies focused on nephrology clinicians realising the importance of treating patients as individuals. Nephrology clinicians demonstrated advanced communication skills, empathy and compassion when interacting with patients, which seemed to contribute to patient satisfaction. This systematic review found some qualitative evidence to explain how nephrology clinicians establish and maintain a professional clinician-patient relationship with patients in the HD unit.This review highlighted a significant gap in research concerning the trajectory of the clinician-patient relationship across all members of the renal multidisciplinary health care team.

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