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Maryam Demian

Supervisors: Dr. Wendy Loken-Thornton and Dr. Jean Shapiro
Award: KRESCENT Allied Health Doctoral Scholarship
Institution: Simon Fraser University
Year: 2015-2018

Ms. Maryam Demian will complete her fellowship under the supervision of Dr. Wendy Loken-Thornton and Dr. Jean Shapiro at Simon Fraser University, where she obtained a master’s in clinical psychology and is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in clinical psychology (neuropsychology stream).

Kidney transplant recipients must follow a complex immunosuppressant regimen to prevent complications related to non-adherence (e.g., decreased organ function and graft rejection). Unfortunately, the rates of non-adherence in the kidney transplant population are high. There are many reasons for low levels of adherence. This research project focuses primarily on health literacy as an under-appreciated factor in determining non-adherence to prescribed medication regimens. In various other medical populations health literacy has been extensively studied, and many studies have demonstrated that poor health literacy is linked to worse disease outcomes. The objective of the current project is to build on this research by developing and testing a health literacy educational program, with the goal of supporting and improving immunosuppressant adherence in people who have received kidney transplants.

This project will help determine whether this novel approach of targeting medication adherence through improving health literacy may be effective in this population. Supporting medication adherence in this way can then be more uniformly integrated with healthcare professionals' current care practices, with the ultimate goal of enhancing the management of treatment and organ function in kidney transplant recipients.