Sex Differences in Kidney Transplantation: Austria and the United States, 1978-2018

Front Med (Lausanne). 2022 Jan 24:8:800933. doi: 10.3389/fmed.2021.800933. eCollection 2021.


Background: Systematic analyses about sex differences in wait-listing and kidney transplantation after dialysis initiation are scarce. We aimed at identifying sex-specific disparities along the path of kidney disease treatment, comparing two countries with distinctive health care systems, the US and Austria, over time.

Methods: We analyzed subjects who initiated dialysis from 1979-2018, in observational cohort studies from the US and Austria. We used Cox regression to model male-to-female cause-specific hazard ratios (csHRs, 95% confidence intervals) for transitions along the consecutive states dialysis initiation, wait-listing, kidney transplantation and death, adjusted for age and stratified by country and decade of dialysis initiation.

Results: Among 3,053,206 US and 36,608 Austrian patients starting dialysis, men had higher chances to enter the wait-list, which however decreased over time [male-to-female csHRs for wait-listing, 1978-1987: US 1.94 (1.71, 2.20), AUT 1.61 (1.20, 2.17); 2008-2018: US 1.35 (1.32, 1.38), AUT 1.11 (0.94, 1.32)]. Once wait-listed, the advantage of the men became smaller, but persisted in the US [male-to-female csHR for transplantation after wait-listing, 2008-2018: 1.08 (1.05, 1.11)]. The greatest disparity between men and women occurred in older age groups in both countries [male-to-female csHR for wait-listing after dialysis, adjusted to 75% age quantile, 2008-2018: US 1.83 (1.74, 1.92), AUT 1.48 (1.02, 2.13)]. Male-to-female csHRs for death were close to one, but higher after transplantation than after dialysis.

Conclusions: We found evidence for sex disparities in both countries. Historically, men in the US and Austria had 90%, respectively, 60% higher chances of being wait-listed for kidney transplantation, although these gaps decreased over time. Efforts should be continued to render kidney transplantation equally accessible for both sexes, especially for older women.

Keywords: ADTR; USRDS; chronic kidney disease; dialysis; gender; kidney transplantation; sex.