May 15, 2000
The following news tip is based on abstracts or posters presented at the joint meeting of the American Society of Transplantation and the American Society of Transplant Surgeons, held May 14-17 in Chicago.
Studies have shown that socioeconomic background plays a role in whether and when children with kidney failure receive a transplant. To determine whether parental education – one aspect of socioeconomic status – influences physicians' recommendations for transplant, researchers at Johns Hopkins Children's Center presented 600 adult and pediatric nephrologists with 10 hypothetical case studies. The cases reflected a random combination of patient characteristics including age, gender, race, cause of end-stage renal disease (ESRD), family structure, parent education, and patient compliance with prescribed treatment and medication plans.
The team concluded that physicians were 50 percent more likely to recommend kidney transplant for children whose parents are college educated than for those whose parents had not received high school diplomas. Lead researcher Susan Furth, M.D., Ph.D., a pediatric nephrologist at Johns Hopkins Children's Center, also found that the degree to which patients were described as being compliant with strict medication and treatment regimens associated with ESRD was the strongest factor influencing a transplant recommendation. However, even among patients described as "questionably compliant," those whose parents had a higher level of formal education were more likely to be referred for transplant. Furth concludes that some physicians might link a lack of formal education with a likelihood of non-compliance.