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Equity in Health and Health Care: Highlighted Recent Research


Early colorectal cancer screening benefits African Americans: Kaiser Permanente study supports starting screening at age 45 among this higher-risk population

A study by researchers at Kaiser Permanente Northern California showed starting annual colorectal cancer screening at age 45 in African Americans can find colorectal cancers at a rate similar to that seen when screening starts after age 50 — the age most guidelines currently recommend.


Kaiser Permanente reduces racial disparities in who gets minimally invasive hysterectomies: Racial gap nearly disappears during project to train surgeons and establish best practices

Kaiser Permanente's northern California hospitals significantly increased minimally invasive surgery for hysterectomy and found the change also reduced racial disparities in the types of hysterectomies patients get.

How to reduce racial disparities in surgery: Podcast

National figures show white women are more likely to get an advanced, minimally invasive version of hysterectomy than are Black women and Hispanic women. Kaiser Permanente Northern California found much of that difference disappeared when it carried out a quality improvement project.

Chronic disease prevalence varies by Asian subgroup, Kaiser Permanente research finds: Findings suggest value in identifying Asian patients' ethnic backgrounds in medical records

Asian-Americans from different parts of Asia have very different cardiovascular risk factors and chronic conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, and heart disease, research from the Kaiser Permanente Division of Research suggests. The study, published in BMC Public Health, used electronic health record (EHR) data for 1.4 million adults aged 45 to 84 who were Kaiser Permanente Northern California members during 2016.

Minority racial and ethnic groups get diabetes at lower weights: Diabetes occurs 3 times more often among normal-BMI Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders than normal-BMI whites, Kaiser Permanente research finds

Being overweight or obese is commonly associated with diabetes, but a Kaiser Permanente study finds the connection differs widely by race or ethnicity. Members of racial and ethnic minority groups were much more likely to have diabetes or prediabetes at lower weights — even at normal or below-normal body mass index (BMI), according to research published in Diabetes Care.

Large study links genetic marker of aging to greater neighborhood deprivation: Kaiser Permanente and UCSF researchers find strong connection between which neighborhood a person lives in, how much education they have, and the length of their telomeres

A large Kaiser Permanente study has identified links between a genetic marker of aging, how much education a person has, and the degree of socioeconomic deprivation in their neighborhood. Genetics research suggests that longer telomeres — the "end caps" of DNA that keep strands of chromosomes from unraveling — mean more years of healthy life ahead.


Eight weeks or twelve? Kaiser Permanente study shows shorter hepatitis C regimen effective in Black patients: Shorter treatment showed no difference in outcomes, including in Black patients, and could allow more patients access to highly effective medications to treat hepatitis C

Prior to this study, hepatitis C treatment guidelines stated that Black patients should not be treated with a shorter 8-week course of direct-acting antiviral agents, even if they were otherwise eligible, and instead should be given a longer 12-week regimen. A study from the Division of Research showed that a treatment regimen of 8 weeks for hepatitis C may be just as effective as 12 weeks in Black patients. The study was published online in the journal Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology.

Large, diverse study identifies 9 new locations in the genome linked with glaucoma

A genetic analysis of nearly 65,000 Kaiser Permanente Northern California patients uncovered nine specific positions across the human genome, called genetic loci, that are associated with variations in the risk of the most common form of glaucoma. The findings were published in Nature Communications. According to self-reported race/ethnicity information, the participants included non-Hispanic white, Hispanic/Latino, East Asian, and African-American patients, making this the largest and most diverse genomic study of primary open-angle glaucoma to date.

Member Health Survey informs care: For 25 years, the Member Health Survey has been helping Kaiser Permanente to learn about its members

Every 3 years since 1993, the Kaiser Permanente Northern California (KPNC) Member Health Survey has been reaching out to members to find out what they are doing — and not doing — to stay healthy. Nancy Gordon, ScD, of the Kaiser Permanente Division of Research (DOR), lead researcher on the Member Health Survey since it began, explains how the survey helps Kaiser Permanente to better understand its membership and how to serve their health needs.


Early adversity, birthplace contribute to lifelong racial disparities in dementia risk

Two studies presented by Kaiser Permanente researchers Rachel Whitmer, PhD, and Paola Gilsanz, ScD, at an Alzheimer's conference found that early life adversity and birthplace contribute to racial disparities in dementia rates, and that these disparities persist even among the oldest of the elderly. And another study published by the researchers found that being born in the U.S. "Stroke Belt" was associated with dementia risk in a group of individuals who eventually lived outside those states, and that African American persons in that group were at even greater risk.

Urban American-Indian and Alaskan natives may have lower survival following invasive prostate and breast cancer: Kaiser Permanente research aids in understanding disparities

Compared with the non-Hispanic white (NHW) population, the urban American-Indian and Alaskan Native (AIAN) community was more likely to have lower survival rates following invasive prostate and breast cancer, according to results published in Cancer Research, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research.


Landmark study finds dementia risk varies significantly among racial and ethnic groups: Research highlights importance of identifying strategies to reduce disparities

In the largest and longest study at the time of ethnic disparities in dementia risk, researchers compared 6 ethnic and racial groups within the same geographic population and found significant variation in dementia incidence among them. This is the first study to look at dementia risk in a large population representing the diversity of the United States. Researchers found dementia incidence to be highest in Blacks and American Indian/Alaska Natives, lowest among Asian Americans, and intermediate among Latinos, Pacific Islanders and whites.

Kaiser Permanente study shows minorities had lower risk of coronary heart disease than whites: Findings indicate that health plan's systematic efforts to improve risk-factor control may help reduce or eliminate racial and ethnic disparities

In a study of more than 1.3 million Kaiser Permanente members in Northern California that stretched over 10 years, researchers found that Blacks, Latinos and Asians generally had lower risk of coronary heart disease compared to whites. The findings echo those of a 2014 study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, which showed that racial disparities between Black and white Medicare beneficiaries covered by Kaiser Permanente in the western United States have been nearly eliminated for cardiac risks and diabetes markers, even as these disparities persisted among patients in managed health care systems in other regions of the United States.