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Title: Evaluating site-of-care-related racial disparities in kidney graft failure using a novel federated learning framework
Abstract Objectives

Racial disparities in kidney transplant access and posttransplant outcomes exist between non-Hispanic Black (NHB) and non-Hispanic White (NHW) patients in the United States, with the site of care being a key contributor. Using multi-site data to examine the effect of site of care on racial disparities, the key challenge is the dilemma in sharing patient-level data due to regulations for protecting patients’ privacy.

Materials and Methods

We developed a federated learning framework, named dGEM-disparity (decentralized algorithm for Generalized linear mixed Effect Model for disparity quantification). Consisting of 2 modules, dGEM-disparity first provides accurately estimated common effects and calibrated hospital-specific effects by requiring only aggregated data from each center and then adopts a counterfactual modeling approach to assess whether the graft failure rates differ if NHB patients had been admitted at transplant centers in the same distribution as NHW patients were admitted.


Utilizing United States Renal Data System data from 39 043 adult patients across 73 transplant centers over 10 years, we found that if NHB patients had followed the distribution of NHW patients in admissions, there would be 38 fewer deaths or graft failures per 10 000 NHB patients (95% CI, 35-40) within 1 year of receiving a kidney transplant on average.


The proposed framework facilitates efficient collaborations in clinical research networks. Additionally, the framework, by using counterfactual modeling to calculate the event rate, allows us to investigate contributions to racial disparities that may occur at the level of site of care.


Our framework is broadly applicable to other decentralized datasets and disparities research related to differential access to care. Ultimately, our proposed framework will advance equity in human health by identifying and addressing hospital-level racial disparities.

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Author(s) / Creator(s):
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Publisher / Repository:
Oxford University Press
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association
Medium: X Size: p. 1303-1312
["p. 1303-1312"]
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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