Racial/ethnic minorities have lower rates of deceased kidney transplantation (DDKT) and living donor kidney transplantation (LDKT) in the United States. We examined whether social determinants of health (eg, demographics, cultural, psychosocial, knowledge factors) could account for differences in the Veterans Affairs (VA) Kidney Transplantation (KT) Program.
We conducted a multicenter longitudinal cohort study of 611 Veterans undergoing evaluation for KT at all National VA KT Centers (2010–2012) using an interview after KT evaluation and tracking participants via medical records through 2017.
Hispanics were more likely to get any KT (subdistribution hazard ratios [SHR] [95% confidence interval (CI)]: 1.8 [1.2-2.8]) or DDKT (SHR [95% CI]: 2.0 [1.3-3.2]) than non-Hispanic white in univariable analysis. Social determinants of health, including marital status (SHR [95% CI]: 0.6 [0.4-0.9]), religious objection to LDKT (SHR [95% CI]: 0.6 [0.4-1.0]), and donor preference (SHR [95% CI]: 2.5 [1.2-5.1]), accounted for some racial differences, and changes to Kidney Allocation System policy (SHR [95% CI]: 0.3 [0.2-0.5]) mitigated race differences in DDKT in multivariable analysis. For LDKT, non-Hispanic African American Veterans were less likely to receive an LDKT than non-Hispanic white (SHR [95% CI]: 0.2 [0.0-0.7]), but accounting for age (SHR [95% CI]: 1.0 [0.9-1.0]), insurance (SHR [95% CI]: 5.9 [1.1-33.7]), presenting with a living donor (SHR [95% CI]: 4.1 [1.4-12.3]), dialysis duration (SHR [95% CI]: 0.3 [0.2-0.6]), network of potential donors (SHR [95% CI]: 1.0 [1.0-1.1]), self-esteem (SHR [95% CI]: 0.4 [0.2-0.8]), transplant knowledge (SHR [95% CI]: 1.3 [1.0-1.7]), and changes to Kidney Allocation System policy (SHR [95% CI]: 10.3 [2.5-42.1]) in multivariable analysis eliminated those disparities.
The VA KT Program does not exhibit the same pattern of disparities in KT receipt as non-VA centers. Transplant centers can use identified risk factors to target patients who may need more support to ensure they receive a transplant.