Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Thesis

Degree Name

Medical Doctor (MD)

First Advisor

Liana Fraenkel MD


Involving patients in medical decisions by acknowledging patients personal values and individual preferences has become an important goal of providing ethical medical care. Despite a general movement towards a model of shared decision-making, many patients do not fully meet their preferred role in practice. The decision whether or not to accept a kidney once it is offered to a patient awaiting transplant has historically been made predominantly by the transplant surgeon with little involvement from the patient. Because dialysis can provide long-term renal replacement, declining a kidney is a viable option. Patient changes over time and inherent heterogeneity of donor kidneys make this an authentic decision requiring careful analysis of costs and benefits from the patient perspective. The purpose of this study is to improve our understanding of how patients and transplant surgeons prioritize different factors when deciding whether or not to accept a kidney that has become available, in order to empower patients to become more involved in the decision-making process. Phase I: We developed a comprehensive list of factors that patients might consider important through qualitative interviews with patients, and deliberation with a transplant surgeon (SK) and a transplant nephrologists (RF). Phase II: We quantified the relative importance of each factor for patients on the transplant list and for transplant surgeons with a computerized survey using Maximum Differences Scaling. We developed relative importance scores using Heirarchical Bayes analysis, and tested for associations between patient characteristics and relative importance scores using Spearmans correlation coefficient and the Mann Whitney U test for continuous and categorical variables respectively. Of the factors evaluated, patients placed the greatest value on Kidney quality, How closely matched you are to the kidney, and How strongly your surgeon feels you should accept the kidney. Relative importance of different factors did not change based on patient demographic characteristics. Patients who are on the waiting list longer give less importance to kidney quality (standard beta estimate -0.23, p value 0.03) and more importance to How difficult it is for you to be matched to a donor (ie whether or not you are sensitized) (standard beta estimate 0.28, p value 0.01). Surgeons placed the greatest value on Kidney quality, How difficult it is for the patient to be matched to a kidney (ie whether or not the patient is sensitized), and The age of the donor. This pilot study suggests a role for standardized education tools to help empower patients to be involved in this difficult decision. Development of decision aids can be guided by the results of this project.