Speaker details ways physicians, social workers can help achieve health equity in care

April 09, 2022

2 min read


Washington TR. Promoting health equity in CKD: Implications for nephrology social work practice. Presented at: National Kidney Foundation Spring Clinical Meetings; April 5-10, 2022; Boston.

Washington reports no relevant financial disclosures.

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BOSTON — Top health equity categories in kidney care include racism and disparities in chronic kidney disease care and kidney transplant care, according to a speaker here who said these can also be addressed with individual strategies.

“The year 2020 will definitely be punctuated in U.S. history as a pivotal year in which racial disparities in health care were brought to the forefront and discussed in sectors outside of academic medicine and research,” Tiffany R. Washington, PhD, MSW, a professor at the University of Georgia School of Social Work, said in a presentation at the National Kidney Foundation Spring Clinical Meetings. She added, “But what are the health equity issues in CKD? Have they been clearly delineated? Have they been clearly summarized and have they been clearly defined? And then, what are strategies to address those inequities?”

In a systematic review of literature, Washington and her team sought to define health equity in CKD, develop a comprehensive list of health equity topics in CKD and identify strategies to reduce and eliminate health inequities in CKD. Using terms related to “social justice,” “health equity,” “chronic kidney disease,” “dialysis” and “health care,” researchers searched PubMed and social services abstracts for peer-reviewed, U.S.-based studies between 2011 and 2021. They chose studies that provided strategies to achieve the equity described.

Analyses revealed the following top 10 health equity categories: disparities in CKD care; disparities in kidney transplant care, access or outcomes; disproportionate burden of CKD; social determinants of health; racism; health literacy; discriminatory health policies; end of life; GFR race equation; and public health or community education.

Washington said that strategies to eradicate these disparities include screening for health literacy, integrating cultural values into shared decision-making and advanced care planning, and immediate implementation of the CKD-EPI creatinine equation re-fit without the race variable.

Washington said social workers are well-positioned to be national leaders in health equity practice, research and policy. Social workers already address social determinants of health as housing needs, food insecurity and social isolation, and so implementing the suggested strategies can strengthen their efforts.

Washington said, “We believe, based on the literature, that CKD health equity involves the elimination of discriminatory and racist systems, policies and socioeconomic environmental factors or social determinants of health that prevent individuals living with CKD from an equitable opportunity to access immediate care, to receive culturally tailored interventions and to achieve optimal health, well-being and quality of life.”

Washington and her team plan to publish their research in a paper soon.


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