(HealthDay News) — For transplant providers, the second most influential factor determining a patient’s suitability for transplantation is social support, according to a report published online in the Journal of Medical Ethics.

Keren Ladin, PhD, from Tufts University of Medford, Mass., and colleagues examined how transplant providers weigh the importance of social support for kidney recipients. A total of 584 transplant providers who responded to the National Survey of the American Society of Transplant Surgeons and the Society of Transplant Social Work in 2016 compared 2 hypothetical patient profiles and selected 1 for transplantation. The relative importance of each factor was estimated.

The researchers found that the second most influential factor among transplant providers was social support. Providers were most likely to choose a candidate with social support, who always adhered to a medical regimen, and who had a life expectancy of 15 years with transplant (odds ratios, 1.68, 1.64, and 1.61, respectively). Compared with medical/surgical providers, psychosocial providers were more influenced by adherence and quality of life; medical/surgical providers were more influenced by life expectancy with transplant. Social support was the most influential factor for providers concerned with avoiding organ waste, while it was the least influential factor for clinicians concerned with fairness.

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“Social support is highly influential in listing decisions and may exacerbate transplant disparities,” the authors write. “Providers’ beliefs and reliance on social support in determining suitability vary considerably, raising concerns about transparency and justice.”

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How important is social support in determining patients’ suitability for transplantation? Results from a National Survey of Transplant Clinicians. J Med Ethics. DOI: 10.1136/medethics-2017-104695