Tailoring a pathway for mental health care for Albertans on dialysis

Faculty of Nursing, University of Alberta


Mental health concerns are very common for people on dialysis, up to four out of 10 experience depression and anxiety. Similar for many Canadians, this has likely increased due to COVID-19. But dialysis patients are also isolated and experiencing significant changes in health care services. Albertans on dialysis have said that their mental health is a top priority. Unfortunately, mental health symptoms are rarely addressed or treated in dialysis care.

This project aims to work together with people on dialysis, community members, clinicians, and researchers to create a “pathway” document to guide mental health care.

  • First we will aim to understand what is currently available  for mental health care in dialysis across Alberta. We will interview patients, clinicians, and administrators to understand their perspectives and experiences about what is currently available for mental health care.
  • Second, we will connect with clinicians in primary care and mental health and share a survey to help understand how dialysis patients can access help.
  • Third, we will look at the tools currently used by dialysis patients to provide feedback on their mental health concerns, and the quality of their overall care. And we will see how their responses can be used to provide them with best care practices that align with what matters most to them.
  • Fourth, we will use all of this information to draft a pathway. We will invite patient and community partners, clinicians, leaders, and researchers to share their feedback. This will inform the final version of the care pathway. By including all stakeholders in the co-development of this care pathway, we can assure the best mental health care for those on dialysis.

This project aims to address a major gap in our understanding about how to address and provide support for those on dialysis who also experience mental wellness challenges. Our findings may ultimately improve the quality of life for Canadians on dialysis living with mental health symptoms, and their families and caregivers. Results may be applied to kidney programs across Canada and internationally.

Roles and Reponsibilities

This project is looking for patient and community partners to share their essential lived-experience and insights of dialysis to give input on the projects’ priorities and processes during monthly online video-calls. This can include reviewing an online survey for clinicians, and reviewing interview and focus group guides.

It is also hoped that patient and community partners will support the co-development of educational materials and products for patients and care providers at the end of the 2-year study, and will also help to inform strategies to share the developed pathways widely to all Albertans.

Time Commitment

It is anticipated that there will be one 60-minute video call (i.e. Zoom) per month over the course of the 2-year study. In addition, there will be 2-3 full-team online 1-2 hour meetings during the 2 years.


An honorarium of $200 per year (paid annually) is being offered for this opportunity.

For more information or to apply please connect with:
Dr. Kara Schick-Makaroff (study lead)
Dr. Charlotte Berendonk (study coordinator)

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University of Calgary Foothills Campus
3330 Hospital Dr NW
Calgary, AB T2N 4N1


College Plaza
1702, 8215 112 St NW
Edmonton, AB T6G 2C8

Land Acknowledgment

The Alberta SPOR SUPPORT Unit operates on and acknowledges the lands that are the traditional and ancestral territory of many peoples, presently subject to Treaties 6, 7, and 8. Namely: the Blackfoot Confederacy – Kainai, Piikani, and Siksika – the Cree, Dene, Saulteaux, Nakota Sioux, Stoney Nakoda, and the Tsuu T’ina Nation and the Métis People of Alberta. This includes the Métis Settlements and the Métis Nation of Alberta. We acknowledge the many First Nations, Métis and Inuit who have lived in and cared for these lands for generations. We make this acknowledgment as a reaffirmation of our shared commitment towards reconciliation, and as part of AbSPORU’s mandate towards fostering health system transformation.