Rationing organs using psychosocial and lifestyle criteria

Res Nurs Health. 1998 Aug;21(4):327-37. doi: 10.1002/(sici)1098-240x(199808)21:4<327::aid-nur5>3.0.co;2-h.


The role of patient psychosocial and lifestyle characteristics in decisions about the allocation of scarce health care resources has not been examined. In this national survey using the Criteria for Selection of Transplant Recipient (CSTR) Scale, organ transplant coordinators (N = 559) identified the psychosocial and lifestyle criteria they believe should be considered in patient selection/rejection for organ transplant. Using factor analysis to reduce the data, six factors were identified: current lifestyle/psychiatric problems, family/socioeconomic issues, habits, controlled lifestyle/psychiatric issues, cost, and stigmatized conditions. Patients who were in prison for a serious crime, used cocaine, had AIDS, or were HIV positive (criteria making up the Stigma factor), were more likely to be labeled for exclusion from transplant than those with other psychosocial/lifestyle characteristics. When transplant coordinators perceived that patients' psychosocial and lifestyle problems were under control or corrected, they were more likely to consider them for a transplant. For all but the cost factor, criteria were most stringent for heart transplants. Although over 90% of the coordinators assessed patients and participated in patient selection for transplant, master's prepared nurses were more likely than nurses with other educational preparation to be involved in organ recipient selection. These findings can serve as a prototype for how decisions are made for allocating other scarce health care resources.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Distribution
  • Ethics, Nursing*
  • Female
  • Health Care Rationing*
  • Human Body
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nursing, Supervisory*
  • Organ Transplantation / nursing*
  • Organ Transplantation / standards*
  • Patient Selection*
  • Resource Allocation*
  • Sex Distribution
  • Social Values
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Virginia