Background: Over 85% of end-stage renal disease (ESRD) patients receive hemodialysis and 80% of hemodialysis patients in Taiwan contract arteriovenous fistula (AVF). Studies have shown that using far infrared therapy (FIR) improves AVF by improving blood flow. However, the systematic literature reviews have been insufficient to make definite conclusions regarding the effectiveness of this intervention.
Purpose: This paper uses a systematic review of the literature to evaluate the FIR intervention and to explore its effectiveness.
Methods: Researchers searched the following five Chinese and English electronic databases for relevant articles: National Dissertations and Theses, Airiti Library, CINAHL, Cochrane Library, ProQuest, and PubMed/MEDLINE. Keywords including "far infrared therapy", "arteriovenous fistula", and "hemodialysis" were entered. The search was limited to articles published before February 2014. A total of 98 articles that matched the search criteria were extracted. Article topics were screened and repetitions of topics were removed. Three articles met the study inclusion criteria and were selected for further analysis. An assessment of the quality of these 3 studies using the Modified Jadad Scale earned a score of 3.
Results: Findings of this systematic review show that FIR interventions improve blood flow to and from the AVF and that the intervention decreases AVF malfunctioning. Currently, literature on this topic is limited in Taiwan. Therefore, more evidence is needed to validate the findings of the current study.
Conclusions /Implications for Practice: The results of the current study support the ability of patients with FIR to improve their AVF functions as well as the immediate clinical applicability of the suggested intervention. Although current empirical evidence supports the effectiveness of gripping a ball in maintaining AVF functions, many hemodialysis patients, due to age or illness, are not physically capable of doing this exercise. Therefore, FIR is a very good alternative measure.
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