Association of Race and Poverty With Mortality Among Nursing Home Residents on Maintenance Dialysis

J Am Med Dir Assoc. 2019 Jul;20(7):904-910. doi: 10.1016/j.jamda.2019.02.013. Epub 2019 Mar 28.


Objectives: The association of race, ethnicity, and socioeconomic factors with survival rates of nursing home (NH) residents with treated end-stage renal disease (ESRD) is unclear. We examined whether race/ethnicity, ZIP code-level, and individual-level indicators of poverty relate to mortality of NH residents on dialysis.

Design: Retrospective cohort study.

Participants/setting: Using the United States Renal Data System database, we identified 56,194 nursing home residents initiated on maintenance dialysis from January 1, 2007 through December 31, 2013, followed until May 31, 2014.

Measurements: We evaluated baseline characteristics of the NH cohort on dialysis, including race and ethnicity. We assessed the Medicare-Medicaid dual eligibility status as an indicator of individual-level poverty and ZIP code-level median household income (MHI) data. We conducted Cox regression analyses with all-cause mortality as the outcome variable, adjusted for clinical and sociodemographic factors including end-of-life preferences.

Results: Adjusted Cox analysis showed a significantly lower risk of death among black vs nonblack NH residents [adjusted hazard ratio (AHR) 0.91, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.89, 0.94]. Dual-eligibility status was significantly associated with lower risk of death compared to those with Medicare alone (AHR 0.80, 95% CI 0.78, 0.82). Compared to those in higher MHI quintile levels, NH ESRD patients in the lowest quintile were significantly associated with higher risk of death (AHR 1.09, 95% CI 1.06, 1.13).

Conclusions/implications: Black and Hispanic NH residents on dialysis had an apparent survival advantage. This "survival paradox" occurs despite well-documented racial/ethnic disparities in ESRD and NH care and warrants further exploration that could generate new insights into means of improving survival of all NH residents on dialysis. Area-level indicator of poverty was independently associated with mortality, whereas dual-eligibility status for Medicare and Medicaid was associated with lower risk of death, which could be partly explained by improved access to care.

Keywords: Nursing home; USRDS; dialysis; end-stage renal disease; mortality; poverty; racial disparities.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Databases, Factual
  • Female
  • Healthcare Disparities*
  • Humans
  • Kidney Failure, Chronic / mortality*
  • Kidney Failure, Chronic / therapy*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nursing Homes*
  • Poverty*
  • Racial Groups*
  • Renal Dialysis*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • United States