Using Your Head: Mindfulness Study Aids Dialysis Patients

One of the biggest buzzwords in the healthcare today is “mindfulness.” Mindfulness has crossed the line between a psychological meditation practice to a useful tool to relax patients and help control anxiety.

Mindfulness is the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us.

“We found that by engaging in mindfulness meditation, our patients have significantly decreased their anxiety, especially at the beginning of a treatment as they are connected to the dialysis machine,” says Thang Trey Ngo, a clinical assistant at Satellite Healthcare Stevens Creek in San Jose, California, where the practice has been tested.

Many patients experience anxiety when needles are introduced into the their dialysis access. To try to reduce mental and physical discomfort, patients are given an iPad and headphones. Using a mobile application, called Headspace, patients are led in a 10-minute meditation exercise. The meditation helps patients enter a state of deep relaxation that may reduce anxiety stress and depressive symptoms that usually go undetected and untreated.

“Not only did mindfulness meditation decrease the anxiety related to dialysis, many patients also used this technique to assist relaxation and improve sleep at home,” says Raymond Chang, the research project manager.

Testing the effectiveness of meditation is part of Satellite Healthcare Applied Pragmatic Clinical Research (APCR), a collection of research projects aimed at improving the patient experience.

APCR research focuses on care delivery and process improvement that lead to findings that can rapidly be adopted and implemented across the CKD community. Research initiatives seek to:

  • Increase the number of patients dialyzing using home therapies (HHD and PD).
  • Greatly reduce home dialysis drop-out rates.
  • Advance quality treatment with in the context of excellent patient experience.
  • Collaborate with like-minded organizations to create a future network focused on identifying innovative and leading practices.

“The mindfulness study at the Satellite Healthcare Stevens Creek particularly addresses the goal of improving the patient experience,” explains Paul Bennett, the study’s clinical lead. “Something that has been at the center of patient care for Satellite Healthcare for more than 40 years.”

Other Satellite Healthcare APCR studies include LOL HD and nocturnal sleep beds. Learn more about Satellite Healthcare research at