Medication non-adherence in the adolescent renal transplant recipient: a clinician's viewpoint

Pediatr Transplant. 2005 Jun;9(3):398-407. doi: 10.1111/j.1399-3046.2005.00358.x.


Recent advancements in immunosuppression and surgical techniques have significantly improved the outcome of kidney transplantation in the pediatric population. Adolescents enjoy the best 1-year graft survival of any age group. However, the long-term transplant outcome in adolescents is disappointing. Non-adherence with immunosuppressive medications is one of the most important contributing factors for graft rejection and loss in teenagers. The impact of non-adherence is perceived to be far more powerful in adolescent transplant recipients than in the transplant population as a whole. To better understand adolescent non-adherence, the process of transplantation must be placed in the context of adolescent development. Adolescents try to establish their identity and autonomy separately from the parents; however at the same time, adolescents with chronic illness require help, support and guidance from adults, including parents and medical personnel. Adolescents have limited ability to anticipate abstractly the long-term consequences of their immediate actions. This inconsistency can create frustration in both adolescents and in the supporting systems around them. Despite the significant consequences of adolescent non-adherence, research in this area is scarce. There are still no established definitions, standardized diagnostic methods and effective interventions to treat and prevent this problem. We propose the recommendations to approach the problems of adolescent transplant non-adherence from the transplant clinician's viewpoint. With early identification and appropriate interventions, significant improvement in adolescent graft survival is possible.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Counseling
  • Graft Rejection / psychology
  • Humans
  • Immunosuppressive Agents / administration & dosage*
  • Kidney Failure, Chronic / psychology
  • Kidney Failure, Chronic / surgery
  • Kidney Transplantation* / immunology
  • Kidney Transplantation* / psychology
  • Monitoring, Physiologic
  • Patient Compliance / psychology*
  • Patient Education as Topic
  • Psychology, Adolescent*
  • Self Administration*
  • Transplantation / psychology
  • Treatment Refusal / psychology*


  • Immunosuppressive Agents