Background & aims: Comparing liver transplant (LT) programmes internationally can improve outcomes by stimulating cross-national learning. Yet, comparison of crude outcomes, by using registry data, is limited by missing data, not allowing proper risk-adjustment for donor- and recipient-related factors. The objective of this study was to compare two European LT programmes based on high-quality national longitudinal databases prospectively collected in Italy and UK respectively.
Methods: We undertook a multicentre, international cohort study including all adults who underwent a first single organ LT in Italy (N = 1480) and the UK (N = 1003) between June 2007 and May 2009.
Results: Italian donors were much older compared to the UK ones. Hepatitis C virus infection and hepatocellular carcinoma had higher prevalence in the Italian cohort compared to the UK one (47.5% vs. 23.1%, and 47.2% vs. 17.1% respectively). Centres' volume differed significantly, with five centres out of seven in UK vs. only two out of 20 in Italy performing >60 transplants per year. No national strategies to drive the donor-recipient matching were identified in both countries. After appropriate adjustment, a higher risk of early transplant loss was identified in the Italian cohort, whereas no differences were found in the 3-year survival rates.
Conclusions: International comparison of LT programmes provides the opportunity for benchmarking between heterogeneous healthcare systems and should ideally become a vital part of national quality assurance programmes. This requires the implementation of a standardized methodology for data collection to appropriately weigh each country's patient case-mix and donor and recipients risk factors.
Keywords: international comparison; liver transplantation; survival.
© 2016 John Wiley & Sons A/S. Published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.