Low Awareness of Kidney Disease Among Blacks, Care Providers Related to High Rates of Kidney Failure, Study Finds
Higher rates of kidney failure among blacks in the U.S. is related to a lack of early diagnosis and awareness among both patients and physicians of the disease, according to a study published in the February issue of the American Journal of Kidney Diseases, Reuters Health reports. The report, by researcher Michael Flessner of the University of Mississippi Medical Center and colleagues, is based on findings from the Jackson Heart Study, which includes data on more than 3,400 black adults in Jackson, Miss., who were interviewed and underwent physical examinations. Examinations included an assessment of urine levels of albumin and creatinine -- used to detect kidney disease. Participants also were asked whether they were being treated for kidney disease with dialysis or whether a health care professional had ever told them that they had the condition.
Overall, 20% of participants had chronic kidney disease, but fewer than 16% of participants were aware of their condition, according to the study. Flessner and his co-investigators reported, "The vast majority of the [Jackson Heart Study] group, who had insurance and at least a high school education, did not know they had chronic kidney disease and were not being properly treated." Flessner said, "Much of the problem of patient awareness is due to a lack of awareness of medical practitioners," who are using outdated standards for diagnosing kidney function. He added, "Most physicians were trained in an era in which serum creatinine was used as an absolute indicator of kidney disease."
According to the researchers, "It is imperative that new approaches be implemented to increase awareness, diagnosis and treatment for both the health care provider and the patient." Several organizations, including the National Kidney Foundation, the American Society of Nephrology and the NIH's National Kidney Disease Education Program, "are beginning to have an impact on this lack of awareness at the practitioner level," researchers said (Reuters Health, 1/28).
An abstract of the study is available online.