More than 20 million Americans aged 20 or older may have chronic kidney disease (CKD) and millions more are at risk of developing the disease. Despite its public health burden, awareness and treatment of CKD remain low - especially in communities most affected by the disease. Many with CKD who need treatment do not receive it. And many with key risk factors like diabetes and high blood pressure don’t know they are at risk.
In observance of World Kidney Day 2015 on March 12, the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) at the National Institutes of Health is proud to join organizations across the globe in seeking kidney health for all. Toward this goal, NIDDK supports research to improve outcomes for people with CKD and those at risk.
Through research that tests new ways to deliver care, NIDDK strives to identify better ways to manage kidney disease and broaden access to quality care. This research includes clinical trials testing simple changes in care to identify cost-effective practices that may significantly improve outcomes for all people with or at risk for CKD. Among these trials:
• The Cleveland Clinic is testing whether patient navigators - health care workers who assist people in coordinating their care - can also help them stick to prescribed treatments and overcome barriers to care.
• Researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, are working with clinics that provide services to medically underserved populations to find ways to better manage CKD care and reduce care inequality.
• Researchers at Duke University are studying an automated population program to help identify, monitor and engage people with diabetic kidney disease in their own care through electronic health reminders.
• The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas is looking at innovative ways to use electronic medical records to improve care for people with diabetes, hypertension and kidney disease.
Primary care and community health settings can reach people at risk for progressive CKD early - when treatments have the best chance of slowing kidney damage. To that end, NIDDK promotes CKD education, screening and management in primary care and community settings through the NIDDK’s National Kidney Disease Education Program (NKDEP). NKDEP brings kidney health information and resources to high-risk groups - including African Americans and Hispanics - and to their health care providers in a variety of ways, including:
• Through clinical tools, training programs and reference materials, NKDEP equips a broad array of primary care clinicians with the evidence-based information and resources they need to effectively care for patients with CKD.
• NKDEP’s Riñones, Tesoros (Kidneys, Treasures) Education Program for Community Health Workers helps fill the kidney disease education gap within the Hispanic community by preparing these workers to educate Hispanics with diabetes about their risk for CKD and how to keep their kidneys healthy.
• NKDEP works with grassroots partners - like Chi Eta Phi Nursing Sorority - to execute the Kidney Sundays(PDF - 695KB) program, which helps faith leaders bring kidney health messages to their communities. Kidney Sundays has reached nearly 450,000 congregants.
To truly achieve kidney health for all, countries must collaborate and learn from one another. Applying effective NIDDK efforts abroad may help slow disease progression and reduce the global CKD burden. In turn, NIDDK hopes to continue to learn from successful international CKD initiatives and test their efficacy in the United States.