January 28, 2011

Not Enough Black Kidney Docs

(Ivanhoe Newswire) -- New research shows there's a high number of African American kidney disease patients but few doctors of the same race who can care for them.

According to researchers, kidney disease affects 32 percent of African Americans, who only make up 13 percent of the population. Researchers suggest there should be more of an effort to recruit minorities into kidney specialty programs. Having a physician who is the same race as the patient can help improve patient trust, according to the researchers. They believe recruiting more African American kidney specialists might help reduce or eliminate this health disparity.

The study was led by Mark Rosenberg, M.D., Education Director for the American Society of Nephrology, Chavon Onumah, M.D., at Minneapolis Veterans Affairs Health Care System, and Paul Kimmel, M.D., at the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disease. The group of doctors examined recent trends in the racial background of medical school graduates, internal medicine residents, physicians in training to become kidney specialists, and patients with kidney failure or end-stage renal disease.

They found that African Americans make up 32 percent of patients with end-stage renal disease (characterized by an almost complete failure of kidneys) and only about 7 percent of U.S. medical school graduates. Only about 5 percent of internal medicine residents and 4 percent of all kidney specialist fellows are African American. Also, only 3 percent of kidney specialists practicing in academic medical centers are African American.

Researchers say patient disparities could get worse in the coming years because the number of end-stage renal disease patients is continuing to rise.

SOURCE: Clinical Journal of the American Society Nephrology, January 27, 2011