Most Canadians (48%) Don’t Know if They’re at Risk for Kidney Disease

Majority (59%) Say they Know Nothing About Kidney Disease

The author(s)
  • Sean Simpson SVP, Canada, Public Affairs
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TORONTO, ON, March 6 – The kidneys appear to be a blind spot for many Canadians, with a majority (59%) indicating that they know nothing about kidney disease, according to a new Ipsos poll conducted on behalf of The Kidney Foundation of Canada.

When asked about what the kidneys do, Canadians were varied in their responses: four in ten (36%) think they filter waste/toxins/fluids from the body, while 31% say they cleanse/filter the blood, more specifically. Others say they produce/transform waste into urine (15%), and still others believe they filter toxins from urine (5%), provide some general cleansing/filter (7%), aid with digestion (3%) or help body functions (2%) among other things. Canadians appear to be a little fuzzy on the actual role of the kidneys, even if they understand on a basic level their overall function.

Canadians know even less about kidney disease. Very few mentioned potential causes of kidney disease (3%), while 14% mentioned some of the symptoms, such as damaged kidney or reduced function (8%) or kidney failure (3%) among others, while one in ten (10%) mention some of the treatments such as dialysis (8%) or a transplant (4%). Still others offered that kidney disease can be fatal (8%) or mentioned some other thing about it (7%).

However, a majority of Canadians (59%) admitted that they don’t know anything about kidney disease, with men (67%) being more likely than women (52%) to say so.

One half (48%) of Canadians are unsure of whether they are at risk for kidney disease, once again with men (52%) more likely than women (45%) to state that they are unsure. Moreover, Canadians aged 55+ (54%) are more likely than those aged 35-54 (47%) or 18-34 (42%) to be unsure of whether they’re at risk. When asked about their perceived risk for kidney disease, only one in ten (10%) Canadians believes they are at risk, while four in ten (40%) do not believe they’re at risk. The remaining 2% of Canadians indicate that they have kidney disease.

Canadians are equally fuzzy on their knowledge of whether there is a cure for kidney disease. Four in ten (42%) believe there is not a cure, while 15% believe there is. This leaves 43% indicating that they do not know whether there is a cure, with men (47%) being more likely than women (39%) to admit that this is something they are not familiar with. Moreover, those under the age of 35 are most likely to admit that they do not know (52%), followed by those aged 55+ (44%) and those aged 35-54 (35%).

A significant proportion of Canadians (23%) says that they personally know someone who has kidney disease, including 26% of women, which may explain the relatively higher levels of familiarity among women than men.

Over the course of the pandemic and beyond, the healthcare system in Canada has been put under tremendous strain, and most (74%) Canadians are concerned (26% strongly/48% somewhat) about the pandemic’s impact on the healthcare system as it relates to access for treatment of kidney patients (i.e., dialysis, transplants, etc.).

About the Study


These are some of the findings of an Ipsos poll conducted between December 9 and 15, 2022, on behalf of The Kidney Foundation of Canada. For this survey, a sample of 1,001 Canadians aged 18+ was interviewed. Quotas and weighting were employed to ensure that the sample’s composition reflects that of the Canadian population according to census parameters. The precision of Ipsos online polls is measured using a credibility interval. In this case, the poll is accurate to within ± 3.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, had all Canadians aged 18+ been polled. The credibility interval will be wider among subsets of the population. All sample surveys and polls may be subject to other sources of error, including, but not limited to coverage error, and measurement error.

For more information on this news release, please contact:

Sean Simpson

Senior Vice President, Ipsos Public Affairs Canada
+1 416 324 2002
[email protected]  

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The author(s)
  • Sean Simpson SVP, Canada, Public Affairs

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