Peer-to-peer mentoring helps dialysis patients improve their treatment attendance, according to a pilot test of the Mid-Atlantic Renal Coalition’s (MARC) peer mentoring program. MARC’s Special Innovation Project, Peer Support to Enhance Self-Management and Reduce Hospitalization Rates, was funded by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

MARC recently completed the pilot test of its peer program, known as Peer Up!, at University of Virginia Lynchburg Dialysis, where 46 dialysis patients participated. It included pairing of mentees and mentors, mentor training, kick-off social mixers to explain the program and introduce mentees and mentors, ongoing meetings between mentees and mentors, mentor training booster, and a final celebration mixer.

In addition to reducing missed treatments among mentees, Peer Up! increased self-efficacy, knowledge, social support, and dialysis social support among mentees.

Mentors also experienced increases in knowledge, dialysis social support, and self-management behaviors, according to MARC. One mentor said, “I’ve become more conscious of taking my medicine, controlling my fluids …and just my overall health.  Sometimes, my mentee became my …inspiration as well as she made me accountable.”

MARC has made all of the materials developed for the Peer Up! program available on its website  so all dialysis providers can implement a peer-to-peer program in their facilities.