Geographic Variation and US County Characteristics Associated With Rapid Kidney Function Decline

Benjamin Bowe, Yan Xie, Hong Xian, Ziyad Al-Aly

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Scopus citations


Introduction Geographic variation in the prevalence of chronic kidney disease and incidence of end-stage renal disease has been previously reported. However, the geographic epidemiology of rapid estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR) decline has not been examined. Methods We built a longitudinal cohort of 2,107,570 US veterans to characterize the spatial epidemiology of and examine the associations between US county characteristics and rapid eGFR decline. Results There were 169,029 (8.02%) with rapid eGFR decline (defined as eGFR slope < –5 ml/min per 1.73 m2/year). The prevalence of rapid eGFR decline adjusted for age, race, gender, diabetes, and hypertension varied by county from 4.10%–6.72% in the lowest prevalence quintile to 8.41%–22.04% in the highest prevalence quintile (P for heterogeneity < 0.001). Examination of adjusted prevalence showed substantial geographic variation in those with and without diabetes and those with and without hypertension (P for heterogeneity < 0.001). Cohort participants had higher odds of rapid eGFR decline when living in counties with unfavorable characteristics in domains including health outcomes (odds ratio [OR] = 1.15; confidence interval [CI] = 1.09–1.22), health behaviors (OR = 1.08; CI = 1.03–1.13), clinical care (OR = 1.11; CI = 1.06–1.16), socioeconomic conditions (OR = 1.15; CI = 1.09–1.22), and physical environment (OR = 1.15; CI = 1.01–1.20); living in counties with high percentage of minorities and immigrants was associated with rapid eGFR decline (OR = 1.25; CI = 1.20–1.31). Spatial analyses suggest the presence of cluster of counties with high prevalence of rapid eGFR decline. Discussion Our findings show substantial geographic variation in rapid eGFR decline among US veterans; the variation persists in analyses stratified by diabetes and hypertension status; results show associations between US county characteristics in domains capturing health, socioeconomic, environmental, and diversity conditions, and rapid eGFR decline.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5-17
Number of pages13
JournalKidney International Reports
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2017


  • disparity in kidney disease
  • eGFR decline
  • geographic information systems
  • geographic variation
  • kidney function
  • spatial epidemiology


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