Association of educational attainment with chronic disease and mortality: the Kidney Early Evaluation Program (KEEP)

Am J Kidney Dis. 2011 Aug;58(2):228-34. doi: 10.1053/j.ajkd.2011.02.388. Epub 2011 May 20.


Background: Recent reports have suggested a close relationship between education and health, including mortality, in the United States.

Study design: Observational cohort.

Setting & participants: We studied 61,457 participants enrolled in a national health screening initiative, the National Kidney Foundation's Kidney Early Evaluation Program (KEEP).

Predictor: Self-reported educational attainment.

Outcomes: Chronic diseases (hypertension, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, reduced kidney function, and albuminuria) and mortality.

Measurements: We evaluated cross-sectional associations between self-reported educational attainment with the chronic diseases listed using logistic regression models adjusted for demographics, access to care, behaviors, and comorbid conditions. The association of educational attainment with survival was determined using multivariable Cox proportional hazards regression.

Results: Higher educational attainment was associated with a lower prevalence of each of the chronic conditions listed. In multivariable models, compared with persons not completing high school, college graduates had a lower risk of each chronic condition, ranging from 11% lower odds of decreased kidney function to 37% lower odds of cardiovascular disease. During a mean follow-up of 3.9 (median, 3.7) years, 2,384 (4%) deaths occurred. In the fully adjusted Cox model, those who had completed college had 24% lower mortality compared with participants who had completed at least some high school.

Limitations: Lack of income data does not allow us to disentangle the independent effects of education from income.

Conclusions: In this diverse contemporary cohort, higher educational attainment was associated independently with a lower prevalence of chronic diseases and short-term mortality in all age and race/ethnicity groups.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Chronic Disease
  • Educational Status
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Kidney Diseases / mortality*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged