• We prospectively studied the influence of 29 demographic, social, psychological, and somatic factors on survival of 78 patients over age 70 years receiving long-term dialysis. Three years after the prospective evaluation, 54% of the patients had died. Only four factors, all psychosocial, were prognostically important. The patients who survived rated higher on the Karnofsky scale (85 vs 78 points), gained less weight between dialyses (1.5 vs 1.9 kg), more often underwent home dialysis (44% vs 21%), and less often wished for transplantation (28% vs 57%). In stepwise and multiple regression analysis, home dialysis and Karnofsky scale resulted in best fit. No somatic variable predicted outcome. Thirty-one patients were reinterviewed three years later. At that time, more patients were depressed and had a lower income, fewer wanted a transplant, and five had lost their living companion. There was a decrease in the number of patients who cooked their own meals, spent time outdoors, went to church, or had hobbies. Activity on the Karnofsky scale decreased from 87 to 84 points. The home dialysis patients' perceived health decreased from 3.9 to 3.4 points. Our study shows that psychosocial, but not somatic variables, are prognostically important in survival of older patients undergoing dialysis, and there is a measurable decline in these variables during a three-year follow-up period.
(Arch Intern Med 1987;147:1921-1924)