UMMS Affiliation

School of Medicine; Senior Scholars Program

Publication Date


Document Type



Clinical Epidemiology | Epidemiology | Female Urogenital Diseases and Pregnancy Complications | International Public Health | Male Urogenital Diseases | Nephrology


BACKGROUND: A lack of advanced healthcare information systems and validated scientific cohorts in Nicaragua makes it difficult to estimate disease prevalences and other public health statistics. Although there is concern of an "epidemic" of chronic kidney disease (CKD) in this country, statistics regarding its magnitude are derived from only a small number of non-representative studies. Budgetary constraints and the logistical problems of maintaining a study cohort make longitudinal studies difficult. The Rivas Cohort was created to measure disease burden of CKD and other public health priorities in the Department of Rivas, Nicaragua. Using primarily volunteer research students and technologic innovation including GPS, digital photography and point of care biochemical analysis, the ability to establish a longitudinal chronic disease cohort is demonstrated.

METHODS: Subjects were recruited from consecutive adjacent households in thirty-two randomly selected communities in the ten municipalities that comprise the Department of Rivas in southern Pacific coastal Nicaragua. The study was conducted in two phases. In the first phase, subjects were enrolled into the cohort and consented for future re-contact. In Phase II, conducted two years later, attempts were made to re-contact 400 of these subjects for additional data collection. Demographic, lifestyle, occupational, exposure and health data was collected for both phases of the study. Blood and urine testing and height, weight and blood pressure measurements were also performed. GPS coordinates of homes were recorded and maps of remote communities created.

RESULTS: Of 1397 adults living in 533 households approached for participation a total of 1242 (89 %) were enrolled in the cohort. The median age is 41 years and 43 % are male, demographics in agreement with Nicaraguan census data for the Department of Rivas. During Phase II we attempted to re-contact 400 subjects for a follow-up study of CKD. It was possible to re-contact 84 % of these participants and of those re-contacted 95 % agreed to participate in the follow-up study. Of subjects that were not successfully re-contacted the majority had either moved (32) or were not at home (22) at the time of the study team visits.

CONCLUSION: The Rivas Cohort Study enrolled a representative sample of 1242 adults living in the Department of Rivas, Nicaragua. The high re-contact and participation rates at two years suggests that the cohort is suitable for long-term studies and presents opportunities for investigations of disease prevalence, incidence, treatment and other public health matters. GPS coordinates and maps are available for future researchers who wish to use the cohort for additional studies.


Baseline Survey, Central America, Cohort studies, Creatinine, Data collection, Nicaragua, Public health, Public health surveillance, Renal insufficiency

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Copyright © Minnings et al. 2016. Open Access.

DOI of Published Version



BMC Nephrol. 2016 Jul 25;17:93. doi: 10.1186/s12882-016-0320-9. Link to article on publisher's site

Journal/Book/Conference Title

BMC nephrology


Madeline Fiore, Amos Lichtman, and Keriann Nobil are medical students at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. Madeline Fiore participated in this study as part of the Senior Scholars research program at the University of Massachusetts Medical School.

Full author list omitted for brevity. For full list of authors see article.

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.