Background: African-American patients with end-stage renal disease are less likely than white patients to undergo renal transplantation. The development of strategies to address this disparity requires an evidence-based understanding of the barriers that impede access to renal transplantation among African Americans in the United States.
Methods: In September 2005, we searched MEDLINE, EMBASE, and CENTRAL for articles that identified the barriers that impeded African Americans' access to renal transplantation. Two reviewers independently extracted relevant data from the included studies. Barriers were broadly divided under two categories: (i) patient-related barriers; and (ii) healthcare-related barriers.
Results: We obtained 76 potentially relevant articles of which 11 studies were included in the final review. Several patient-related barriers--personal and cultural beliefs about transplantation, lower socioeconomic status and levels of education, and healthcare-related barriers--physician perception about survival of African Americans post-transplantation, inadequate transplant work-up despite being referred, and HLA-mismatching were identified at different stages of the transplantation process. Personal and cultural beliefs of African-American patients were consistently identified as patient-related barriers among several studies. Physicians' perception about post-transplantation survival of African Americans was the most commonly identified healthcare-related barrier.
Conclusions: A wide spectrum of patient-related barriers including their personal and cultural beliefs about transplantation and several healthcare-related barriers at different stages of the transplant process impedes access to renal transplantation among African Americans in the United States. A multisectoral approach focusing on these barriers needs to be evaluated to reduce disparities in renal transplantation in the United States.