The relationship between social networks and pathways to kidney transplant parity: evidence from black Americans in Chicago

Soc Sci Med. 2011 Sep;73(5):663-7. doi: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2011.06.031. Epub 2011 Jul 19.


Research has shown that black dialysis patients in the United States are significantly less likely than their white peers to be evaluated and listed for a kidney transplant. Extrapolating from social-network theory, I hypothesize that a lack of access to social contacts with information about kidney transplantation may hinder information transaction regarding the benefits of, and pathway to, transplantation. In 2007-2008, the following research questions were addressed in an investigation in Chicago, USA: (1) What is the role of social networks in providing information about kidney transplantation to black hemodialysis patients? (2) What is the relationship between social networks and a patient's likelihood of being seen at a kidney transplant center? From a stratified sample of dialysis units in the area, a purposive sample of 228 black patients was surveyed while they received treatment about their social networks and kidney transplant status. It was found that the odds of black hemodialysis patients being seen at a kidney transplant center increase with income, and patients who have people in their social network with information about kidney transplant were significantly more likely to be seen at a kidney transplant center. Specifically, black dialysis patients who get informational social support from their dialysis team and social networks were significantly more likely to be seen at kidney transplant centers. I conclude that considering black dialysis patients' social milieu can be complementary to the existing research regarding this public health crisis.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • African Americans*
  • Aged
  • Chicago
  • Female
  • Health Services Accessibility
  • Health Surveys
  • Healthcare Disparities*
  • Humans
  • Kidney Failure, Chronic / surgery
  • Kidney Transplantation / ethnology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Models, Theoretical
  • Renal Dialysis
  • Social Support*
  • Young Adult