October 15, 2003

Renal disease disparities in Asian and Pacific-based populations in Hawai’i

M.K. Mau, M. West, J. Sugihara, M. Kamaka, J. Mikami and S.F. Cheng

Journal of the National Medical Association

The prevalence of end-stage renal disease (ESRD) in the United States is expected to double over the next 10 years. The identification of ethnic differences in the prevalence, treatment, morbidity, and mortality related to chronic kidney disease (CKD) is of great concern. Asian Americans comprise a rapidly expanding sector of the U.S. population and are reported to have ESRD growth rates that are approximately 50% higher than caucasians.

Hawai’i has a large, well-established Asian and Pacific-based population that facilitates the examination of disparities in renal disease among the state’s diverse ethnic groups. The prevalence of ESRD in Hawai’i has continued to rise due, in part, to high rates of diabetes, glomerulonephritis, and hypertension reported in Asian Americans and Pacific-based populations. ESRD patients in Hawai’i have a two-fold higher prevalence of glomerulonephritis, compared with the general ESRD population in the United States.

Other potential sources of renal disparities-such as cultural factors, language barriers, and health access factors-among Hawaii’s major ethnic groups are assessed. However, few studies have examined the relative contribution of these potential factors. Consequently, efforts to reduce and eventually eliminate renal disease disparities will require a better understanding of the major sources of health disparities, such as timely medical care, a diverse health workforce, and cultural/social barriers, that affect optimal health care practices in Asian and Pacific-based populations.

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