Date of Conferral



Doctor of Social Work (DSW)


Social Work


Debora Rice


Health literacy is vital for hemodialysis patients because they need to undergo routine treatments 3 days per week and adhere to medication regimens requiring them to understand complicated health information. The questions for this study focused on a social work practice of their roles when assessing and promoting health literacy in dialysis patients. Nephrology social workers are vital in helping dialysis patients understand their medical information so that they can make better-informed decisions about their healthcare. This study also includes an exploration of the strategies nephrology social workers use to increase health literacy in patients with chronic kidney disease. An ecological framework with social learning theory was used as the foundation to address broader social determinants. An action research design was used to execute the study. Data were collected using a focus group of 5 female social workers, 4 nephrology social workers, and a social worker who previously worked in dialysis. A thematic analysis coding technique was used for data analysis. Key findings include: (a) social workers perceived their crucial role was helping patients understand their treatment plan and condition one step at a time, and (b) ways to engage family and interdisciplinary team patients' care. Recommendations include increased healthcare education screenings and advocating for national social work associations to spread information about healthcare proficiency. These social change recommendations are designed to help increase the overall health literacy of dialysis patients with a result of reduced healthcare costs for people and organizations.

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