Informed Patients More Likely To Get Kidney Transplants

Orlando, FL (April 3, 2013) – What you don't know can hurt your chances of getting a transplant. Kidney patients who understand their condition and treatment are more likely to be placed on the transplant waiting list than those who don't, according to new research presented at the National Kidney Foundation's 2013 Spring Clinical Meetings held here today.

"Being 'health literate' allows patients to make determinations about the right course of treatment, ask questions when they are unsure of what the health care professional is telling them and explain elements of treatment to others. Our findings showed a correlation between health literacy and medical outcome, which in this case, meant getting the transplant," said Abby Swanson Kazley, PhD, Associate Professor, Medical University of South Carolina.

Kazley and her team assessed health literacy, or the ability to understand medical conditions, in 92 kidney patients, controlling for race, age, gender and insurance status. Of those, 53 were formally placed on the transplant waiting list and 36 received a kidney transplant. The analysis showed that the level of health literacy was a predictor of whether the patients got transplanted.

"Physicians need to realize that patients have varying levels of health literacy, and it can impact the care they receive. They should provide information about patients' conditions in a number of different forms and in ways patients can understand. Doctors and other health care professionals should ask patients questions to be sure they are understanding the information they receive," continued Dr. Kazley.

According to the National Kidney Foundation, More than 415,000 people in the United States depend on dialysis treatment to survive and nearly 96,000 are on the national kidney transplant waiting list.

"Patients must know how to advocate for themselves and make appropriate decisions about their care. To do so, they must seek information so they can understand all aspects of their condition and treatment choices. It's also very important not be afraid to ask questions of physicians," said Dr. Kerry Willis, Senior Vice President for Scientific Activities. "The National Kidney Foundation is committed to providing educational materials and resources for patients at varying levels, and ensuring that they have the information they need to navigate the complex healthcare system. This study shows that education impacts medical outcomes and so we will continue to develop new and appropriate resources for transplant candidates."

Transplant Facts from the National Kidney Foundation:

  • Nearly 3,000 new patients are added to the kidney waiting list each month.
  • 13 people die each day while waiting for a life-saving transplant
  • Every 10 minutes someone is added to the transplant list

The National Kidney Foundation is the leading organization in the U.S. dedicated to awareness, prevention and treatment of kidney disease for hundreds of thousands of healthcare professionals, millions of patients and their families and tens of millions of Americans at risk. For more information, visit