How patients choose kidney transplant centers: A qualitative study of patient experiences

Cory R Schaffhausen, Warren T McKinney, Marilyn J Bruin, Jon Synder, Arthur J Matas, Bertram Kasiske, Ajay K Israni

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Little is known about how patients make the critical decision of choosing a transplant center. In the United States, acceptance criteria, waiting times, and mortality vary significantly by geography and center. We sought to understand patients' experiences and perspectives when selecting transplant centers. We included 82 kidney transplant patients in 20 semi-structured interviews, nine focus groups with local candidates, and three focus groups with national recipients. Sites included two local transplant centers in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and national recipients from across the United States. Transcripts were analyzed by two researchers using a thematic analysis. Several themes emerged related to priorities and barriers when choosing a center. Patients were often unfamiliar with options, even with multiple local centers. Patients described being referred to a specific center by a trusted provider. Patients prioritized perceived reputation, comfort, and convenience. Insurance coverage was both a source of information and a barrier to options. Patients underestimated differences across centers and the effects on being waitlisted and receiving a transplant. Barriers in decision making included an overwhelming scope of information and difficulty locating information relevant to patients with unique medical needs. Informed decisions could be improved by the dissemination of understandable information better tailored to individual patient needs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere13523
JournalClinical Transplantation
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 John Wiley & Sons A/S. Published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd


  • center
  • choosing
  • kidney
  • qualitative
  • transplantation


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