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Kidney Function Found to be Affected by Perceived Racial Discrimination

According to a new study, perceived racial discrimination may contribute to disparities in rates of decline…

Psychosocial factors such as perceived racial discrimination have been associated with chronic diseases, but little is known about the relationship between perceived racial discrimination and kidney function decline.

Researchers led by Angedith Poggi-Burke, MPH and Deidra Crews, MD, FASN (National Institute on Aging and Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, respectively) studied 1,574 adults with preserved kidney function in the Healthy Aging in Neighborhoods of Diversity across the Life Span (HANDLS) study (Baltimore City, Maryland). The team found that 20% of individuals perceived themselves to have been discriminated against ‘a lot’ because of their race.

Such individuals were more likely to be African-American and have a higher educational background, but they were more likely to be living in poverty than those who reported little-to-no perceived discrimination. Additionally, those who perceived ‘a lot’ of discrimination had higher systolic blood pressure, but a lower prevalence of diabetes than those perceiving little-to-no discrimination.

Overall, perceived racial discrimination was linked with greater kidney function decline over five years of follow-up that was independent of socio-demographic, lifestyle, and health factors. When analyzed by race and sex, the link between perceived racial discrimination and kidney function decline remained only among African-American women. Systolic blood pressure was responsible for 15% of this association.

Dr. Crews chief investigator added that, “Perceived racial discrimination may contribute to disparities in kidney disease and might exert its effect on risk of kidney function decline through stress-related pathways….This study can serve as a basis for future studies focusing on psychosocial stressors and their potential contributions to the initiation and progression of kidney disease.”

Practice Pearl:

  • Psychosocial factors such as perceived racial discrimination have been associated with chronic diseases.
  • Racial discrimination was linked with greater kidney function decline over five years of follow-up that was independent of socio-demographic, lifestyle, and health factors.
  • Perceived racial discrimination may contribute to disparities in kidney disease and might exert its effect on risk of kidney function decline through stress-related pathways

American Society of Nephrology, Presented at ASN Kidney Week 2014 at the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia, PA. “Association of Perceived Racial Discrimination and Kidney Function Decline among African Americans and Whites” (Abstract SA-PO856). http://medicalxpress.com/news/2014-11-racial-discrimination-impact-kidney-function.html