Patients living in rural areas were less likely to receive organ transplants or be put on waiting lists for organs, but they did not experience significantly different outcomes following transplants, according to a new study in the Journal of the American Medical Association. According to the article, disparities in access to organ transplantation exist for racial minorities, women and patients with lower socioeconomic status or inadequate insurance. This new study adds patients in rural areas to that list.
Led by physician David Axelrod from Dartmouth Medical School, researchers examined results for 174,630 patients who were wait-listed and who underwent heart, liver or kidney transplantation between 1999 and 2004. According to the report, nearly 37.8 million individuals live in small towns or rural areas, accounting for 14% of the overall U.S. population.
This study demonstrates that patients living in small towns and isolated rural regions were 8% to 15% less likely to be wait-listed and 10% to 20% less likely to undergo heart, liver and kidney transplantation than patients in urban environments, the study said. These discrepancies may be related to differences in the burden of disease in rural environments or reduced access to entering the waiting list.
The authors also noted that delayed referral to specialists is common in rural populations and has been associated with decreased access to transplantation. The article, Rates of Solid-Organ Wait-listing, Transplantation, and Survival Among Residents of Rural and Urban Areas appears in the journals Jan. 9/16 issue. -- by Jessica Zigmond
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