Background: Renal transplantation is the optimal treatment for persons with end-stage renal disease (ESRD). A shortage of kidneys in the U.S. has focused increasing attention on the process by which kidneys are allocated. A national survey was undertaken to determine the relative importance of both clinical and nonclinical factors in the recommendation for renal transplantation by U.S. nephrologists.
Methods: We conducted a national random survey of 271 U.S. nephrologists using hypothetical patient scenarios to determine their recommendation for renal transplantation based on demographic, clinical, and social factors. Specifically, eight unique patient scenarios were randomly distributed to each survey respondent.
Results: According to responding nephrologists (response rate 53%), females were less likely than males to be recommended for renal transplantation [adjusted odds ratio (OR)=0.41; confidence interval (CI) 0.21, 0.79; for whites]. Asian males were less likely than white males to be recommended for transplantation (OR=0.46, CI 0.24, 0.91). Black-white differences in rates of recommendation were not found. Other factors associated with low rates of recommendation for renal transplantation included history of noncompliance (OR=0.17, CI 0.13, 0.23), <25% cardiac ejection fraction (OR=0.15, CI 0.10, 0.21), HIV infection (OR=0.01, CI 0.00, 0.01), and being >200 lbs (OR=0.73, CI 0.56, 0.95).
Conclusions: Female gender, and Asian but not black race, were associated with a decreased likelihood that nephrologists would recommend renal transplantation for patients with end stage renal disease. The well-documented black-white disparities in use of renal transplantation may be due to unaccounted for factors or may arise at a subsequent step in the transplantation process.