Randomised and non randomised trials and before-and-after studies were eligible for inclusion. Studies had to consider educational programmes or interventions, specifically therapeutic patient education interventions (as defined by the World Health Organisation). Studies had to contain adult patients treated by haemodialysis and had to report patient outcomes before and after the intervention. Studies of patients on peritoneal or home haemodialysis were excluded, as were those with fewer than 10 patients.
A range of physiological and psychological outcomes (or combination of both) were included. Studies of physiological outcomes mostly examined dietary compliance by measuring biological outcomes (such as calcium or potassium levels); other studies considered compliance or knowledge of hygiene, vascular access, physical activity, interdialytic weight gain or medical knowledge. Studies of psychological outcomes investigated adaptation, dealing with stress and developing self-care skills. Most interventions were administered by a nurse or dietician, otherwise they were delivered by a psychologist or multidisciplinary team. There was a mix of purely educational interventions and psycho-educational interventions. Seven studies were conducted in England.
Study selection was performed by one reviewer, with two others assessing undecided cases.