To investigate, Laura J. McPherson, MPH, Rachel E. Patzer, PhD, MPH (Emory University School of Medicine), and their colleagues examined whether a shorter distance from patients’ residence to a transplant center increased the likelihood of referral and initiating a transplant evaluation once referred.
‘Distance from patient ZIP code to the nearest transplant center may not be the driving force in accessing the early steps in the kidney transplant process, referral, and evaluation initiation, among patients in the Southeastern U.S. ’
For the study, the investigators examined information on adults who began treatment for kidney failure at any Georgia, North Carolina, or South Carolina dialysis facility from 2012 through 2015.
Among 27,250 patients, 9,582 (35%) were referred to a transplant center within 1 year of dialysis initiation, and among those referred, 58% initiated evaluation within 6 months of referral. Although patients living the farthest (>90 miles) compared with the shortest (
“Other unmeasured factors in the genre of distance, such as travel time or transportation options, may have a larger impact on these early steps and should be further examined. Future studies outside of the Southeastern U.S. should also be done to observe whether there are similar findings across geographic regions.”
An accompanying editorial notes that the findings are likely to apply nationally across the United States, but should be confirmed in other geographic regions and in international settings.
An accompanying Patient Voice editorial provides the perspective of a working professional and patient advocate who lives in and serves fellow patients across a very rural part of America marked by a disproportionately high level of kidney disease.