Area-level poverty, race/ethnicity & dialysis star ratings

PLoS One. 2017 Oct 17;12(10):e0186651. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0186651. eCollection 2017.


The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services recently released a five star rating system as part of 'Dialysis Facility Compare' to help patients identify and choose high performing clinics in the US. Eight dialysis-related measures determine ratings. Little is known about the association between surrounding community sociodemographic characteristics and star ratings. Using data from the U.S. Census and over 6000 dialysis clinics across the country, we examined the association between dialysis clinic star ratings and characteristics of the local population: 1) proportion of population below the federal poverty level (FPL); 2) proportion of black individuals; and 3) proportion of Hispanic individuals, by correlation and regression analyses. Secondary analyses with Quality Incentive Program (QIP) scores and population characteristics were also performed. We observed a negligible correlation between star ratings and the proportion of local individuals below FPL; Spearman coefficient, R = -0.09 (p<0.0001), and a stronger correlation between star ratings and the proportion of black individuals; R = -0.21 (p<0.0001). Ordered logistic regression analyses yielded adjusted odds ratio of 0.91 (95% confidence interval [0.80-1.30], p = 0.12) and 0.55 ([0.48-0.63], p<0.0001) for high vs. low level of proportion below FPL and proportion of black individuals, respectively. In contrast, a near-zero correlation was observed between star ratings and the proportion of Hispanic individuals. Correlations varied substantially by country region, clinic profit status and clinic size. Analyses using clinic QIP scores provided similar results. Sociodemographic characteristics of the surrounding community, factors typically outside of providers' direct control, have varying levels of association with clinic dialysis star ratings.

MeSH terms

  • African Americans*
  • Ambulatory Care Facilities / classification*
  • Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, U.S. / classification*
  • Hispanic Americans*
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Medicaid / statistics & numerical data
  • Medicare / statistics & numerical data
  • Odds Ratio
  • Poverty Areas
  • Quality Indicators, Health Care / statistics & numerical data*
  • Renal Dialysis / ethics
  • Renal Dialysis / statistics & numerical data*
  • United States