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Racial Disparities Widespread in Kidney Patient Outcomes
Date:6/4/2008

es are beyond our impact, citing them as societal issues, not realizing that we are society," wrote Norris and Nissenson. They encouraged doctors to effectively communicate with patients, to advocate for improved health care systems, and to investigate the situation by conducting relevant medical research.

The study is in the July issue of the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology.

A second study in the same issue of the journal also identified a number of factors that contribute to racial and ethnic disparities among kidney disease patients in the United States, including: genetic incompatibility; wait-list registration practices; donor kidney acceptance practices; patient interest in transplantation; attitudes and beliefs about organ donation; and differences in risk factors for kidney disease progression after transplantation.

"There is a professional, economic, and ethical imperative to eliminate health disparities. We have the means to find and implement solutions by holding ourselves, and others, accountable," wrote study author Dr. Neil Powe of the Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions in Baltimore, who suggested a number of steps that can be taken by doctors and others.

For example, researchers should examine why black and Hispanic patients with kidney disease are more likely than whites to progress to ESRD. Is it due to biological factors such as genetics, non-biological factors such as poverty, or lack of optimal care, or a combination of both?

Health providers and health care delivery organizations need to take action to eliminate disparities, and the nation's health care policies need to be changed, Powe said.

"The kidney disease community should strongly advocate for solutions that address broader issues, such as lack of awareness of kidney disease and its prevention, inadequate health insurance, and forces leading to the concentration (if not segregation) of care of racial and ethn
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