Aberdeen-led study aims to reduce inequalities in the diagnosis and treatment of kidney disease | News

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Aberdeen-led study aims to reduce inequalities in the diagnosis and treatment of kidney disease

There are 3.5 million people living with Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) in the UK and the numbers are growing. Of these, a third remain undiagnosed and by 2040, kidney disease will be the fifth biggest killer worldwide*.

New research led by Dr Simon Sawhney at the University of Aberdeen is seeking to address inequalities in kidney healthcare in Scotland, where significant discrepancies have been identified in how kidney disease is diagnosed, accessed, and treated, particularly among socioeconomically disadvantaged groups.

The University’s Aberdeen Centre for Health Data Science and Health Services Research Unit is working with the University of Manchester to bring together experts from primary care, nephrology, public health, healthcare improvement, patient safety, and research methodology to reduce this disparity.

Research is being conducted as part of the KINDER study (Kidney Inequalities: Needs, Data, Experiences, Response) to understand the factors that contribute to these inequalities, assess the relationships between kidney health and socioeconomic circumstances, and identify strategies to mitigate or reduce inequitable care.

The study follows 140,000 people with newly diagnosed kidney disease in Scotland, links their health data to the Scottish Censuses of 2011 and 2022, and follows them over time.

Dr Magdalena Rzewuska Díaz, from the University of Aberdeen, the project’s qualitative lead, said: “Our project focuses on addressing social justice within healthcare. Driven by collaboration with key stakeholders, including healthcare providers, patients, and policymakers, we aim to leverage collective expertise for meaningful impact.

“At present, there exists a notable discrepancy in how kidney disease is diagnosed, accessed, and treated, particularly among socioeconomically disadvantaged groups.

“Not only does it perpetuate socioeconomic disadvantage, but it also undermines public health and reflects broader systemic injustices within our society. Recognising the urgency of this issue, we are committed to taking action.

“It is only by enhancing our understanding of the factors that contribute to existing inequalities that we can develop effective strategies to reduce them. By doing so, we aspire to foster a more equitable and accessible healthcare system for all individuals impacted by kidney disease.”

The study will focus on the population affected by kidney disease, with a specific attention on the diagnosis and access to early kidney care for people of working age.

Mrs Audrey Hughes patient partner and project co-investigator said: “Raising awareness of what our kidneys do is so important as early chronic kidney disease often shows no signs or symptoms. Early detection and effective treatment can delay or prevent kidney failure.” 

The project is funded by the Scottish Government’s Chief Scientist Office.

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