Background: There are known racial disparities in renal graft survival. Data are lacking comparing associations of race/ethnicity and socioeconomic status with graft failure and functional status after transplantation. Our goal was to test if African-American and Hispanic race/ethnicity and poverty are associated with worse outcomes following renal transplantation.
Methods: We performed a retrospective cohort study using a nationwide registry (United Network for Organ Sharing). We studied 4,471 adults who received renal transplants in 1990. Outcomes were graft failure and functional status over 10 years.
Results: Cumulative incidence of graft failure was higher among African-Americans and Hispanics than whites (77% vs. 64% vs. 60 %; P<0.001) and among transplant recipients living in the poorest areas (70% vs. 58% in the richest; P<0.001). African-American and Hispanic race/ethnicity were independently predictive of graft failure (RR 1.8, 95% CI 1.6-1.9; RR 1.3, 95% CI 1.2-1.6, respectively) in multivariate analyses but poverty status was not (RR 1.0, 95% CI 0.9-1.1). Days with impaired functional status were higher for African-Americans compared to whites (RR 1.6, 95% CI 1.3-1.9) but not independent of poverty. Poverty was independently associated with impaired functional status (RR 1.3, 95% CI 1.0-1.6).
Conclusions: African-Americans and Hispanics had higher rates of graft failure compared to whites after adjustment for poverty and other covariates whereas poverty, but not race/ethnicity, was related to functional status following renal transplantation. National datasets should include individual-level measures of socioeconomic status in order to improve evaluation of social and environmental causes of disparities in renal transplant outcomes.