Using observational data to assess the treatment effects on outcomes of kidney transplantation relative to dialysis for patients on renal replacement therapy is challenging due to the non-random selection into treatment. This study applied the propensity score weighting approach in order to address the treatment selection bias of kidney transplantation on survival time compared with dialysis for patients on the waitlist. We included 2676 adult waitlisted patients who started renal replacement therapy in Sweden between 1 January 1995, and 31 December 2012. Weibull and logistic regression models were used for the outcome and treatment models, respectively. The potential outcome mean and the average treatment effect were estimated using an inverse-probability-weighted regression adjustment approach. The estimated survival times from start of renal replacement therapy were 23.1 years (95% confidence interval (CI): 21.2-25.0) and 9.3 years (95% CI: 7.8-10.8) for kidney transplantation and dialysis, respectively. The survival advantage of kidney transplantation compared with dialysis was estimated to 13.8 years (95% CI: 11.4-16.2). There was no significant difference in the survival advantage of transplantation between men and women. Controlling for possible immortality bias reduced the survival advantage to 9.1-9.9 years. Our results suggest that kidney transplantation substantially increases survival time compared with dialysis in Sweden and that this consequence of treatment is equally distributed over sex.
Keywords: Sweden; average treatment effect; dialysis; inverse-probability-weighted regression adjustment approach; kidney transplantation; survival time.