A note on a discussion group study of public preferences regarding priorities in the allocation of donor kidneys

Health Policy. 2004 Apr;68(1):31-6. doi: 10.1016/j.healthpol.2003.07.006.


Objective: To explore whether and how people wish to give differential priority based on certain characteristics of the potential recipient of a donor kidney.

Design: A random sample of people resident in York was invited to attend two focus group meetings each, a fortnight apart.

Setting: The City of York.

Participants: Twenty-three randomly chosen people meeting in four groups of five or six.

Main outcome measures: Those factors that people think should be taken into account when allocating donor kidneys, in addition to the expected benefits from transplantation.

Results: People are willing and able to distinguish between potential recipients of a kidney transplantation according to a range of characteristics beyond the expected benefits from treatment. There is a clear consensus across the four groups that one of the most important considerations is what will happen to the patient without treatment, and so priority is given to those with a poor prognosis. There is also a strong view that priority should be given to younger patients and to those with dependants. The time spent waiting for a transplant is also important, but less so.

Conclusions: A sample of the general public, after discussion and debate, wish to take account of a number of patient characteristics when allocating donor kidneys. There is some degree of consensus about what these factors should be and this suggests that it might be possible to develop a set of guidelines for the allocation of donor kidneys.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Attitude to Health*
  • England
  • Family Characteristics
  • Female
  • Focus Groups
  • Health Care Rationing / standards*
  • Health Priorities*
  • Humans
  • Kidney Transplantation / standards*
  • Kidney Transplantation / statistics & numerical data
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Selection*
  • Prognosis
  • Random Allocation
  • Resource Allocation / standards
  • Transplants / supply & distribution*
  • Waiting Lists