Background: Black patients with end-stage renal disease are much less likely than white patients to undergo renal transplantation, but previous research has shown that black patients are only slightly less likely to desire this procedure. A better understanding of physicians' views about racial differences in access to transplantation may help reduce disparities in care.
Methods: We surveyed 278 nephrologists in 4 US regions about quality of life and survival for black and white patients undergoing renal transplantation and reasons for racial differences in access to transplantation. We also surveyed 606 of their patients about their care.
Results: Physicians were less likely to believe transplantation improves survival for blacks than whites (69% versus 81%; P = 0.001), but similarly likely to believe it improves quality of life (84% versus 86%). Factors commonly cited by physicians as important reasons why blacks are less likely than whites to be evaluated for transplantation included patients' preferences (66%), availability of living donors (66%), failure to complete evaluations (53%), and comorbid illnesses (52%). Fewer physicians perceived patient-physician communication and trust (38%) or physician bias (12%) as important reasons. Black patients were less likely than white patients to report receiving some or a lot of information about transplantation (55% versus 74%; P = 0.006) when their physicians did not view patient-physician communication and trust as an important reason for racial differences in care.
Conclusion: Nephrologists' views about the benefits of renal transplantation and reasons for racial differences in access to this procedure may affect how they present this treatment option to black and white patients.