Factors Contributing to Health Disparities in Liver Transplantation in a Hispanic Population

Miladys N. Rivera, Sheila Jowsey, Angel E. Alsina, Esther A. Torres


Objective: Among the challenges that Puerto Rico transplant patients face are a lack of social support that would enable them to move away from Puerto Rico, the difficulty of obtaining insurance coverage, and limitations imposed by language barriers. These factors may lead to reduced access to liver transplantation , which is a form of healthcare disparity. The objective of the study is to describe a group of Puerto Rican liver transplant candidates for the first time and to determine whether the above-named factors limit the possibilities of these candidates to be listed for transplant. Methods: Using non-public databases from the referral and the transplant center, we performed a retrospective analysis of the medical records of patients who had been evaluated for liver transplant candidacy. Candidates (137) from the Liver Transplant Clinic at the University of Puerto Rico School of Medicine pre-evaluated for transplant candidacy during the period of 2002 to 2008 were selected. Results: Records from 86 men and 51 women were reviewed. The most predominant etiologies of liver disease were hepatitis C virus (36%), a combination of etiologies (26%), alcoholic liver disease (16%), and cryptogenic cirrhosis (10%). While social support and history of psychiatric disorders did not affect listing, private insurance increased the odds of being enlisted for liver transplant (OR = 2.97) (95%CI: 1.067-8.242) (p < 0.05). Conclusion: Access to private insurance increases the possibility of patient’s being enlisted for liver transplantation. Recommendations for overcoming the gap in access to transplants by patients without private insurance are discussed.


Disparities, Insurance, MELD, Hispanic, Barriers

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