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New Scottish studies aim to advance equitable access to care for all on World Kidney Day

New Scottish studies aim to advance equitable access to care for all on World Kidney Day

13th March 2024

NHS Research Scotland (NRS) Renal Speciality is lending its full support to World Kidney Day’s equity message with two new studies analysing fairness of patient access

This Thursday (14 March), World Kidney Day 2024’s theme is ‘Kidney health for all - advancing equitable access to care and optimal medication practice’, and NRS Renal Speciality is focusing efforts in this area, with vital research that will help shape the future treatment and care for people with kidney disease.

Its two studies will be ongoing over the next two years at a timely point in kidney care with fresh analysis from the British Heart Foundation (BHF) Scotland revealing that people with kidney failure are up to eight times more likely to have a heart attack and up to four times more likely to have a stroke than those without.

BHF Scotland further believes that the data indicates women are at greater risk of dying than men.

Helping to identify inequities in kidney care, the University of Dundee has been awarded a Chief Scientist Office (CSO) grant for a research project led by Dr Samira Bell with collaborators from the University of Edinburgh and the University of Sydney which is due to start in May.

The research team aims to ascertain whether socioeconomic deprivation and other health conditions, including mental health disorders, affect access to transplantation, while also looking at the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

For the first time, the study will combine multiple routinely collected healthcare datasets containing real-world information about patients with kidney failure in Scotland. The information will then be used to address these inequities through national policy.

NRS Renal Specialty Lead Dr Samira Bell said: “Ensuring that all patients with kidney failure have equitable access to transplantation is an ongoing and important issue.

“There are concerns that factors such as age, sex, geography, social deprivation, and coexisting health conditions – including mental health issues – can disadvantage patients, and that these inequalities may have been further increased by the COVID-19 pandemic.”

A further CSO-funded study has recently commenced, led by researchers at the University of Aberdeen.

The KINDER study (KINDER – Kidney Inequalities: Needs, Data, Experiences, Response) aims to understand the sources of inequities in kidney health care in Scotland and suggest actions that could make kidney care fairer for all.

Dr Simon Sawhney of the University of Aberdeen – who aims to use data to guide care for people with kidney diseases – said: “People with kidney disease from deprived areas of Scotland are more likely to miss opportunities to receive healthcare, their condition gets worse quicker, and they die younger. We do not yet know how best to address this.

“The KINDER study will help us to understand the relationship between socioeconomic circumstances and kidney health in greater detail than has previously been possible.”

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

The study will also be used to evaluate the reverse relationship of how poor kidney health affects the subsequent life circumstances of people, including their ability to work, living with a disability, and mental health.

Dr Sawhney continued: “Along with the linked data analysis, we will also interview working-age people with kidney disease and do focus groups with general practice staff from deprived neighbourhoods in Glasgow, Grampian, and Fife to learn about their experiences of diagnosis, accessing care, and the adjustments they find they need to make.”

NRS Renal Specialty supports the delivery of high-quality clinical research in renal disorders and aims to have a beneficial impact on quality of life by ensuring that people who have kidney disease have the opportunity to know about, and participate in, relevant clinical research studies.

NRS Renal Specialty Performance Manager Graeme Piper said: “Reducing inequities is a vital part of our aim to improve outcomes for patients across Scotland.

“We are pleased to have two new studies progressing positively with that very goal in mind, aligning with World Kidney Day’s key message of ‘kidney health for all’, which is a vital one for us with an estimated 607,000 people affected by kidney disease in Scotland.

“In order to deliver the best possible care, we have to overcome barriers, including challenges to accessibility.

“We already know that chronic kidney disease disproportionately affects some sections of the population which means higher incidence, poorer outcomes, and less access to transplants, but we need to get a much better understanding of that picture.”

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