Background: Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is a worldwide public health problem with increasing incidence and prevalence and associated expenses. Objectives: To explore different perceptions of rural and urban patients with chronic kidney disease (CKD) about kidney transplant. Patients and Methods: We conducted four focus groups, each including 5 or 6 patients with stage 5 CKD or end stage renal disease living in a rural or urban area. Open-ended questions probed patient familiarity with kidney transplant, perceptions of benefits of kidney transplant, perceived barriers to kidney transplant, and views about living donation. All the sessions were recorded and professionally transcribed. Responses were pooled, de-identified, and analyzed using qualitative thematic content analysis. Results: Urban patients were more likely to receive supplementary information and being strongly encouraged by their nephrologists to seek transplant. All participants acknowledged "independence" as the main advantage of transplantation. Increased freedom to travel and improved life expectancy were mentioned only among the urban groups. The main themes in all groups regarding perceived barriers to transplant were the tedious pre-transplant testing and workup expenses. Among rural groups, there was a perception that distance from transplant centers impedes transplant evaluation. Religious reasons favoring and opposing transplant were mentioned by participants in a rural group. Some members contended that since illness is God's will, we should not change it. Others in the same group argued that "God is not ready for us to give up". Praise and gratitude for the living donor were expressed in all groups, but concerns about donor's outcome were discussed only within the rural groups. In discussing preference about known or anonymous donors, members of an urban group mentioned favoring an anonymous donor, citing unease with a sense of life-long indebtedness. Conclusions: Observed differences in perceptions among rural and urban patients about aspects of transplant may contribute to geographic disparities in transplant. The findings could be helpful to guide future individualized, culturally sensitive educational interventions about transplant for patients with CKD.
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