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Race and Mortality in CKD and Dialysis: Findings From the Chronic Renal Insufficiency Cohort (CRIC) Study

Abstract

Rationale & objectives

Few studies have investigated racial disparities in survival among dialysis patients in a manner that considers risk factors and mortality during the phase of kidney disease before maintenance dialysis. Our objective was to explore racial variations in survival among dialysis patients and relate them to racial differences in comorbid conditions and rates of death in the setting of kidney disease not yet requiring dialysis therapy.

Study design

Retrospective cohort study.

Settings & participants

3,288 black and white participants in the Chronic Renal Insufficiency Cohort (CRIC), none of whom were receiving dialysis at enrollment.

Exposure

Race.

Outcome

Mortality.

Analytic approach

Cox proportional hazards regression was used to examine the association between race and mortality starting at: (1) time of dialysis initiation and (2) entry into the CRIC.

Results

During 7.1 years of median follow-up, 678 CRIC participants started dialysis. Starting from the time of dialysis initiation, blacks had lower risk for death (unadjusted HR, 0.67; 95% CI, 0.51-0.87) compared with whites. Starting from baseline CRIC enrollment, the strength of the association between some risk factors and dialysis was notably stronger for whites than blacks. For example, the HR for dialysis onset in the presence (vs absence) of heart failure at CRIC enrollment was 1.30 (95% CI, 1.01-1.68) for blacks versus 2.78 (95% CI, 1.90-4.50) for whites, suggesting differential severity of these risk factors by race. When we included deaths occurring both before and after dialysis, risk for death was higher among blacks (vs whites) starting from CRIC enrollment (HR, 1.41; 95% CI, 1.22-1.64), but this finding was attenuated in adjusted models (HR, 1.08; 95% CI, 0.91-1.28).

Limitations

Residual confounding.

Conclusions

The apparent survival advantage among blacks over whites treated with dialysis may be attributed to selected transition of a subset of whites with more severe comorbid conditions onto dialysis.

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