Patients’ Perspectives on Access to Dialysis and Kidney Transplantation in Rural Communities in Australia

Nicole Scholes-Robertson, Talia Gutman, Martin Howell, Jonathan C. Craig, Rachel Chalmers, Allison Tong

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Introduction: This study aimed to describe the perspectives of patients from rural communities on access to all forms of kidney replacement therapy to inform strategies to address such inequity. Methods: Semistructured interviews were conducted. Transcripts were thematically analyzed. Results: There were 28 participants, of whom, 14 (50%) were female and 5 (17%) Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander. The mean distance to a nephrologist was 107 km, and transplant center was 447 km. We identified the following 5 themes: encumbered by transportation hardship (burdening of family and friends, frustration at lack of transportation options, heightened vulnerability to road trauma, unrelenting financial strain); deprived of treatment and care (isolated from centralized services, unresolved psychological distress, vulnerable without care, disadvantaged by limited options); confused by multiple information sources (despair at fragmented care, fear of unfamiliar health settings and treatments); compounding economic consequences (depletion of income/leave, coping with unexpected expenses); and the looming threat of relocation (devastated by displacement, resigned to periods of separation, uncertainty in sourcing appropriate accommodation). Conclusion: Patients with chronic kidney disease (CKD) in rural communities face profound economic, logistical, and psychological obstacles to accessing dialysis and transplant, leaving them feeling vulnerable and confused. To achieve equity of access and improved health outcomes for rural patients with CKD, barriers to dialysis, transplantation, and psychological services in this population require addressing through policy and alternate models of health service delivery, in consultation with rural communities and those families affected by CKD.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)591-600
Number of pages10
JournalKidney International Reports
Issue number3
Early online date22 Nov 2021
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2022


  • access
  • dialysis
  • qualitative research
  • rural
  • transplantation


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