The Relationship between Health Literacy and Outcomes before and after Kidney Transplantation

Elizabeth C. Lorenz, Tanya M. Petterson, Carrie A. Schinstock, Bradley K. Johnson, Aleksandra Kukla, Walter K. Kremers, William Sanchez, Kathleen J. Yost

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background. Limited health literacy (HL) is associated with decreased kidney function and death in patients with chronic kidney disease. Less is known about the impact of HL on kidney transplant (KT) outcomes. The aim of this study was to examine the relationship between HL and KT outcomes, including rates of waitlisting, healthcare utilization, acute rejection, renal allograft function, renal allograft failure, and death. Methods. We performed a retrospective review of HL data previously collected at our center. HL was assessed in a convenience sample of consecutive, English-speaking patients age ≥18 y who were evaluated for KT at Mayo Clinic in Minnesota between June 2015 and March 2017 as part of a practice improvement feasibility project (n = 690). HL was assessed using the 4-item Brief Health Literacy Screening Tool modified for the outpatient KT evaluation process. The 4 items assess confidence completing forms, reading comprehension, and oral literacy. Results. Overall, 30.4% of patients had limited or marginal HL. Patients with limited or marginal HL were less likely than those with adequate HL to be waitlisted for KT (hazard ratio = 0.62 and 0.69, respectively), even after adjusting for age, marital status, body mass index, Charlson comorbidity index, or dialysis dependency. Patient HL was not associated with post-KT healthcare utilization, acute rejection, or renal allograft function. Patients with limited or marginal HL appeared to experience a higher risk of renal allograft failure and post-KT death, but the number of events was small, and the relationship was statistically significant only for marginal HL. Conclusions. Inadequate HL is common in KT candidates and independently associated with decreased waitlisting for KT. We observed no statistically significant relationship between HL and posttransplant outcomes in our cohort. Further efforts to improve communication in patients with inadequate HL may improve access to KT.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)E1377
JournalTransplantation Direct
Issue number10
StatePublished - Sep 15 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Transplantation


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