Age and sex disparities in discussions about kidney transplantation in adults undergoing dialysis

J Am Geriatr Soc. 2014 May;62(5):843-9. doi: 10.1111/jgs.12801. Epub 2014 May 6.


Objectives: To explore whether disparities in age and sex in access to kidney transplantation (KT) originate at the time of prereferral discussions about KT.

Design: Cross-sectional survey.

Setting: Outpatient dialysis centers in Maryland (n = 26).

Participants: Individuals who had recently initiated hemodialysis treatment (N = 416).

Measurements: Participants reported whether medical professionals (nephrologist, primary medical doctor, dialysis staff) and social group members (significant other, family member, friend) discussed KT with them and, when applicable, rated the tone of discussions. Relative risks were estimated using modified Poisson regression.

Results: Participants aged 65 and older were much less likely than those who were younger to have had discussions with medical professionals (44.5% vs 74.8%, P < .001) or social group members (47.3% vs 63.1%, P = .005). Irrespective of sex and independent of race, health-related factors, and dialysis-related characteristics, older adults were more likely not to have had discussions with medical professionals (relative risk (RR) = 1.13, 95% confidence interval (CI) = 1.03-1.24, for each 5-year increase in age through 65; RR = 1.28, 95% CI = 1.14-1.42, for each 5-year increase in age beyond 65). Irrespective of age, women were more likely (RR = 1.45, 95% CI = 1.12-1.89) not to have had discussions with medical professionals. For each 5-year increase in age, men (RR = 1.04, 95% CI = 0.99-1.10) and women (RR = 1.17, 95% CI = 1.10-1.24) were more likely not to have discussions with social group members. Of those who had discussions with medical professionals or social group members, older participants described these discussions as less encouraging (all P < .01).

Conclusion: Older adults and women undergoing hemodialysis are less likely than younger adults and men to have discussions about KT as a treatment option, supporting a need for better clinical guidelines and education for these individuals, their social network, and their providers.

Keywords: access to transplantation; age disparities; dialysis; kidney transplantation; sex disparities.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Age Distribution
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Ambulatory Care / methods*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Decision Making*
  • Disease Progression
  • Female
  • Healthcare Disparities*
  • Humans
  • Kidney Failure, Chronic / epidemiology
  • Kidney Failure, Chronic / therapy*
  • Kidney Transplantation / statistics & numerical data*
  • Male
  • Maryland / epidemiology
  • Middle Aged
  • Morbidity / trends
  • Renal Dialysis / statistics & numerical data*
  • Sex Distribution
  • Sex Factors
  • Survival Rate / trends