Functional Status, Time to Transplantation, and Survival Benefit of Kidney Transplantation Among Wait-Listed Candidates

BACKGROUND - In the context of an aging end-stage renal disease population with multiple comorbid conditions, transplantation professionals face challenges in evaluating the global health of patients awaiting kidney transplantation. Functional status might be useful for identifying which patients will derive a survival benefit from transplantation versus dialysis.

STUDY DESIGN - Retrospective cohort study of wait-listed patients using data for functional status from a national dialysis provider linked to United Network for Organ Sharing registry data.

SETTING AND PARTICIPANTS - Adult kidney transplantation candidates added to the waiting list between 2000 and 2006.

PREDICTORS - Physical Functioning scale of the Medical Outcomes Study 36-Item Short Form Health Survey, analyzed as a time-varying covariate.

OUTCOMES - Kidney transplantation; survival benefit of transplantation versus remaining wait-listed.

MEASURES - We used multivariable Cox regression to assess the association between physical function with study outcomes. In survival benefit analyses, transplantation status was modeled as a time-varying covariate.

RESULTS - The cohort comprised 19,242 kidney transplantation candidates (median age, 51 years; 36% black race) receiving maintenance dialysis. Candidates in the lowest baseline Physical Functioning score quartile were more likely to be inactivated (adjusted HR vs highest quartile, 1.30; 95% CI, 1.21-1.39) and less likely to undergo transplantation (adjusted HR vs highest quartile, 0.64; 95% CI, 0.61-0.68). After transplantation, worse Physical Functioning score was associated with shorter 3-year survival (84% vs 92% for the lowest vs highest function quartiles). However, compared to dialysis, transplantation was associated with a statistically significant survival benefit by 9 months for patients in every function quartile.

LIMITATIONS - Functional status is self-reported.

CONCLUSIONS - Even patients with low function appear to live longer with kidney transplantation versus dialysis. For wait-listed patients, global health measures such as functional status may be more useful in counseling patients about the probability of transplantation than in identifying who will derive a survival benefit from it.

Functional Status, Time to Transplantation, and Survival Benefit of Kidney Transplantation Among Wait-Listed Candidates.
Reese PP1, Shults J2, Bloom RD3, Mussell A2, Harhay MN4, Abt P5, Levine M5, Johansen KL6, Karlawish JT7, Feldman HI4.
Author information
1 Renal Electrolyte & Hypertension Division, Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA; Department of Biostatistics and Epidemiology, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA. Electronic address: .
2 Department of Biostatistics and Epidemiology, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA.
3 Renal Electrolyte & Hypertension Division, Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA.
4 Renal Electrolyte & Hypertension Division, Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA; Department of Biostatistics and Epidemiology, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA.
5 Department of Surgery, Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA.
6 Division of Nephrology, University of California-San Francisco, San Francisco, CA.
7 Department of Medical Ethics and Health Policy, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA; Division of Geriatrics, Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA.