Kidney transplant clinicians' perceptions of palliative care for patients with failing allografts in the US: A mixed methods study

Document Type





Rationale & objective: Kidney transplant patients with failing allografts suffer from physical and psychological symptom burden, and high morbidity and mortality. Palliative care is underutilized in this vulnerable population. We sought to describe kidney transplant clinicians' perceptions of palliative care and delineate their perceived barriers to and facilitators of providing palliative care to this population.
Study design: National explanatory sequential mixed methods study including an online survey and semi-structured interviews.
Setting: & Participants: Kidney transplant clinicians in the United States were surveyed and interviewed from October 2021 to March 2022.
Analytical approach: Descriptive summary of survey responses, thematic analysis of qualitative interviews, and mixed methods integration of data.
Results: A total of 149 clinicians completed the survey and 19 completed subsequent interviews. Over 90% of respondents agreed that palliative care can be helpful for patients with a failing kidney allograft. However, 46% of respondents disagreed that all patients with failing allografts benefit from palliative care and two-thirds thought that patients would not want serious illness conversations. More than 90% of clinicians expressed concern that transplant patients and caregivers would feel scared or anxious if offered palliative care. Interviews identified three main themes: 1) transplant clinicians' unique sense of personal and professional responsibility was a barrier to palliative care engagement, 2) uncertainty regarding timing of palliative care collaboration led to delayed referral, and 3) clinicians felt challenged by factors related to patients' cultural backgrounds and identities, such as language differences. Many comments reflected an unfamiliarity with the broad scope of palliative care beyond end-of-life care.
Limitations: Potential selection bias.
Conclusions: Our study suggests that multiple barriers related to patients, clinicians, health systems, and health policies may pose challenges to the delivery of palliative care for patients with failing kidney transplants. This study illustrates the urgent need for ongoing efforts to optimize palliative care delivery models dedicated to kidney transplant patients, their families, and the clinicians who serve them


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Publication ( Name of Journal)

American Journal of Kidney Diseases