We used the 36-item Short-Form Health Survey to compare health-related quality of life (HRQOL) between 104 dialysis patients in Seattle, WA, and 2,178 patients in Aichi, Japan. Compared with Aichi patients, Seattle patients had lower scores on three scales related to physical HRQOL: Physical Functioning (PF; P = 0.03), Role-Physical (RP; P = 0.004), and Vitality (VT; P < 0.001). However, scores related to mental HRQOL were higher for Seattle patients compared with those of Aichi patients, which included scores for Role-Emotional (RE; P = 0.005) and Mental Health (MH; P < 0.001). Scores for Bodily Pain, General Health Perception, and Social Functioning did not differ significantly between the two groups. These differences persisted even after potential confounding factors were controlled for. However, after taking into account national norm data for the United States and Japan, differences in PF and VT disappeared, whereas differences in RP, RE, and MH persisted. These results suggest that the higher scores for PF and VT in Aichi patients were partly explained by the higher physical HRQOL of the Japanese general population. Although these data may not be representative of the total dialysis populations in the United States and Japan, they suggest potential differences in HRQOL between patients in the two countries. Additional research is needed to confirm these results and understand the factors associated with these differences. The findings suggest the need for further attention to the physical limitations of US dialysis patients and the mental health of Japanese dialysis patients.
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