Hepatitis Transmission Risk in Kidney Transplantation (the HINT study): A Cross-Sectional Survey of Transplant Clinicians in Australia and New Zealand

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Abstract

Background

Interpreting hepatitis serology and virus transmission risk in transplantation can be challenging. Decisions must balance opportunity to transplant against potential infection transmission. We aimed to survey understanding among the Australian and New Zealand medical transplant workforce of hepatitis risk in kidney donors and recipients.

Methods

An anonymous, self-completed, cross-sectional survey was distributed via electronic mailing lists to Australian and New Zealand clinicians involved in kidney transplantation (2014-2015). We compared interpretation of clinical scenarios with paired donor and recipient hepatitis B virus and hepatitis C virus serology to recommendations in clinical practice guidelines. We used logistic regression modeling to investigate characteristics associated with decisions on transplant suitability in scenarios with poor (<50%) guideline concordance (odds ratios [OR]).

Results

One hundred ten respondents had representative workforce demographics: most were male (63%) nephrologists (74%) aged 40 to 49 years. Although donor and recipient hepatitis status was largely well understood, transplant suitability responses varied among respondents. For a hepatitis B virus surface antigen-positive donor and vaccinated recipient, 44% suggested this was unsuitable for transplant (guideline concordant) but 35% suggested this was suitable with prophylaxis (guideline divergent). In 4 scenarios with transplant suitability guideline concordance less than 50%, acute transplant care involvement predicted guideline concordant responses (OR, 1.69; P = 0.04). Guideline concordant responses were chosen less by hepatologists, intensive care doctors (OR, 0.23, 0.35, respectively; P = 0.01), and New Zealanders (guideline concordant responses OR, 0.17; P < 0.01; alternative responses OR, 4.31; P < 0.01).

Conclusions

Despite broadly consistent interpretations of hepatitis serology, transplant suitability decisions varied and often diverged from guidelines. Improved decision support may reduce clinician variability.

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