Kidney patients at the Royal Derby Hospital are set to benefit from a project aimed at helping them overcome the psychological impact of their illness and treatment.

The project will look to test the effectiveness of using specific counselling techniques to help patients with kidney failure adjust to the challenges of undergoing haemodialysis treatment.

Around 30 patients from the Royal Derby Hospital will be involved in the research study, which is being run in partnership with the University of Derby and the University of Nottingham.

The project is benefiting from a £40,000 research grant from Kidney Care UK and the British Renal Society and will focus on using Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) to help patients come to terms with their condition and dialysis regime.

University Hospitals of Derby and Burton Consultant Nephrologists Professor Maarten Taal and Dr Nick Selby will make up part of the research team, alongside Health Psychologist and Consultant Clinical Psychologist colleagues from the University of Derby.

Professor Taal said: “We’re very fortunate here in Derby to have a large, purpose built, dialysis unit, with the latest dialysis technology, so that we can provide the best care possible. We also have a very active research programme, researching new methods of improving dialysis all the time to make it more tolerable for patients. There is more of a focus on the physical aspects of dialysis than the psychological effects for patients, so this project is a very positive development and it is very encouraging to see grant funding awarded to focus on the mental wellbeing of patients undertaking this treatment.”

ACT is a form of counselling specifically aimed at patients who find it difficult to come to terms with their condition and dialysis regime and looks to help patients accept what is out of their control.

It was originally devised for patients with depression and anxiety, but has also been used to help people with chronic pain and a range of physical conditions to continue to live fulfilling lives.

Professor James Elander, Health Psychologist at the University of Derby, said: “We know that the impact of dialysis, in addition to the effects of the patient’s illness, can adversely affect how well patients engage with the treatment programme and how effective it can be. What we aim to learn is what the psychological barriers are that prevent some patients from coping with the treatment, as well as positive attitudes and behaviour that currently exist among other patients. We are extremely grateful to the British Renal Society and Kidney Care UK for the grant funding to support this important collaborative programme of research, which we hope will develop practical long-term benefits for dialysis patients.”

There are an estimated 28,000 people in the UK currently receiving dialysis treatment, 25,000 of them having to travel to hospital three times a week for a blood filtration process lasting up to four hours. In addition, many of them have to deal with side-effects of the haemodialysis, such as fatigue and heart problems.