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Clin J Am Soc Nephrol. 2009 Jan;4(1):195-200. doi: 10.2215/CJN.03290708. Epub 2008 Dec 3.

Health literacy and access to kidney transplantation.

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  • 1Division of Nephrology, Department of Medicine, University of California San Francisco, California, San Francisco, CA 94143-0532, USA. vgrubbs@medicine.ucsf.edu

Abstract

BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES:

Few studies have examined health literacy in patients with end stage kidney disease. We hypothesized that inadequate health literacy in a hemodialysis population is common and is associated with poorer access to kidney transplant wait-lists.

DESIGN, SETTING, PARTICIPANTS, & MEASUREMENTS:

We enrolled 62 Black and White maintenance hemodialysis patients aged 18 to 75. We measured health literacy using the short form Test of Functional Health Literacy in Adults. Our primary outcomes were (1) time from dialysis start date to referral date for kidney transplant evaluation and (2) time from referral date to date placed on kidney transplant wait-list. We used Cox proportional hazard models to examine the association between health literacy (adequate versus inadequate) and our outcomes after controlling for demographics and co-morbid conditions.

RESULTS:

Roughly one third (32.3%) of participants had inadequate health literacy. Forty-seven (75.8%) of participants were referred for transplant evaluation. Among those referred, 40 (85.1%) were wait-listed. Participants with inadequate health literacy had 78% lower hazard of referral for transplant evaluation than those with adequate health literacy (adjusted hazard ratio [AHR] 0.22; 95% confidence interval 0.08, 0.60; P = 0.003). The hazard ratio of being wait-listed by health literacy was not statistically different (AHR 0.80, 95% CI, 0.39, 1.61), P = 0.5).

CONCLUSIONS:

Inadequate health literacy is common in our hemodialysis patient population and is associated with a lower hazard of referral for transplant evaluation. Strategies to reduce the impact of health literacy on the kidney transplant process should be explored.

PMID:
19056617
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC2615704
Free PMC Article
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