Background: To summarise the evidentiary basis related to causes of inequities in chronic kidney disease among Indigenous Peoples.
Methods: We conducted a Kaupapa Māori meta-synthesis evaluating the epidemiology of chronic kidney diseases in Indigenous Peoples. Systematic searching of MEDLINE, Google Scholar, OVID Nursing, CENTRAL and Embase was conducted to 31 December 2019. Eligible studies were quantitative analyses (case series, case-control, cross-sectional or cohort study) including the following Indigenous Peoples: Māori, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, Métis, First Nations Peoples of Canada, First Nations Peoples of the United States of America, Native Hawaiian and Indigenous Peoples of Taiwan. In the first cycle of coding, a descriptive synthesis of the study research aims, methods and outcomes was used to categorise findings inductively based on similarity in meaning using the David R Williams framework headings and subheadings. In the second cycle of analysis, the numbers of studies contributing to each category were summarised by frequency analysis. Completeness of reporting related to health research involving Indigenous Peoples was evaluated using the CONSIDER checklist.
Results: Four thousand three hundred seventy-two unique study reports were screened and 180 studies proved eligible. The key finding was that epidemiological investigators most frequently reported biological processes of chronic kidney disease, particularly type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease as the principal causes of inequities in the burden of chronic kidney disease for colonised Indigenous Peoples. Social and basic causes of unequal health including the influences of economic, political and legal structures on chronic kidney disease burden were infrequently reported or absent in existing literature.
Conclusions: In this systematic review with meta-synthesis, a Kaupapa Māori methodology and the David R Williams framework was used to evaluate reported causes of health differences in chronic kidney disease in Indigenous Peoples. Current epidemiological practice is focussed on biological processes and surface causes of inequity, with limited reporting of the basic and social causes of disparities such as racism, economic and political/legal structures and socioeconomic status as sources of inequities.