Living kidney transplants help patients lead longer, healthier lives. Unfortunately, many donors and recipients don't know this. Dr. Amy Waterman wants to change that.
Dr. Waterman investigates the patient and systemic factors influencing kidney transplant rates. She develops outreach and intervention materials and strategies to help recipients and donors make the best-possible decisions about transplantation.
She believes that by empowering everyone involved in the decision-making process with the right information, we can save more lives by increasing kidney donations and transplantantations.
"We may not yet have enough kidneys to go around, organs to go around, but we can make sure that there’s enough education to go around."
- Amy Waterman, PhD
Dr. Waterman's outreach began when she surveyed kidney donors to find out if they regretted their decisions. The donors reported the opposite of regret, saying that donating was one of the most profound and rewarding things they had ever done.
However, one universal comment concerned Dr. Waterman: Nearly all donors wished they had known more about living donation before the procedure. She chose to dedicate her career to providing this much-needed education.
Pulling from elements of clinical and translational research, Dr. Waterman designs and distributes evidence-based educational materials that:
To communicate with as many patients as possible, Dr. Waterman develops materials in the widest range of formats possible. She has translated her extensive research into everything from printed brochures to comprehensive online learning modules designed for patients' out-of-town family members and friends.
Mobilizing a national pipeline of hospitals, dialysis centers, researchers, nurses, and policy makers, Dr. Waterman ensures materials get to the right hands at the right times. The pipeline also helps Dr. Waterman make the materials more effective, providing answers to critical questions, including:
Dr. Waterman refines materials using feedback from the national pipeline combined with research on factors affecting transplant decisions, such as the media. Her evaluations follow a three-pronged approach in line with best practices in behavior change:
Read about a recent evaluation in A Clustered Randomized Trial of an Educational Intervention During Transplant Evaluation to Increase Knowledge of Living Donor Kidney Transplant, published in Sage.
In addition to educating decision makers, Dr. Waterman supports her partners on the clinical side—the medical professionals who perform transplants every day. She is working with the UCLA system, a national leader in kidney transplantation, to develop an educational infrastructure that does not just inform patients, but also makes it easier for physicians to answer questions and provide quality care.
Dr. Waterman hopes to implement the infrastructure throughout the entire University of California system. Such a concerted, large-scale educational effort could significantly reduce the kidney shortage and help more people live longer by receiving kidney transplants.