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Kidney Week

Abstract: FR-PO458

A Qualitative Study Exploring the Role and Responsibilities of the Patient Care Technician in US Dialysis Care

Session Information

Category: Dialysis

  • 801 Dialysis: Hemodialysis and Frequent Dialysis

Authors

  • Urbanski, Megan, Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia, United States
  • Hoge, Courtney E., Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia, United States
  • Bender, Alexis A., Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia, United States
  • Joseph, Jessica, National Kidney Foundation, New York, New York, United States
  • Collins Damron, Kelli, National Kidney Foundation, New York, New York, United States
  • Morgan, Jennifer Craft, Georgia State University, Atlanta, Georgia, United States
  • Jaar, Bernard G., Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland, United States
  • Plantinga, Laura, Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia, United States
Background

Dialysis patient care technicians (PCTs) provide essential, frontline care for patients on dialysis. We aimed to qualitatively explore perceptions of the PCT job role, responsibilities, and training among current PCTs, other staff on the dialysis care team, and patients receiving dialysis.

Methods

Focus group discussions were conducted in March-May 2023 with U.S. PCTs, dialysis staff, and patients. Participants were recruited via email invitation and social media postings from professional organizations and were purposively sampled to capture diversity in demographics and years of experience. Discussions were audio-recorded and transcribed verbatim and thematic analysis was conducted using inductive and deductive strategies.

Results

Seven focus group discussions (n=36 participants) were conducted (3 with PCTs [n=19], 2 with dialysis staff [e.g., social workers, dietitians; n=6], and 2 with patients [n=11]). Preliminary analyses revealed that, although there is agreement that PCTs play a pivotal role in dialysis care for patients and colleagues, PCTs are often perceived as “helpers” or ancillary rather than an integral part of the care team. Participants reported that PCT job training and qualifications are not standardized and are often not commensurate with job expectations and responsibilities. Additional training and continuing education are needed and desired. Participants reported that the PCT-patient relationship is deeply valued, but boundaries can be fluid and blurred due to the frequency and nature of dialysis care and differences in the perception of relationship boundaries were observed among groups. Finally, it was noted that PCTs are vulnerable to multilevel workplace safety issues (e.g., unsafe staffing ratios, violence) but feel ill-prepared to manage them.

Conclusion

Preliminary findings suggest PCTs play a multifaceted role in dialysis care that is highly valued among patients and staff, but this is not always reflected in the clinic-, organization-, or system-level policies that govern U.S. dialysis care. Future research should prioritize multilevel interventions aimed at equipping PCTs with the needed resources and support to provide quality care for patients and better prepare and integrate these critical members of the dialysis care team.

Funding

  • Other U.S. Government Support