New project to improve health of patients with kidney failure

Jessie Chin
Jessie Chin, Assistant Professor

There are approximately 600,000 individuals in the U.S. who are undergoing hemodialysis (HD) therapy for kidney failure. In hemodialysis, a machine filters wastes, salts, and fluid from the blood when an individual's kidneys are no longer healthy enough to do this work adequately. While lifestyle changes such as getting more exercise and making better nutritional choices would benefit HD patients, they are not popular with patients—leading to poor health outcomes. A new project, led by Assistant Professor Jessie Chin, aims to boost HD patients' commitment to exercise through a long-term motivational interviewing conversational agent (LotMintBot).

Chin's project, "Development of a Chatbot for Delivering Long-Term Motivational Interviewing for Improving Exercise Adherence in Hemodialysis Patients," has received a $75,000 grant through Jump ARCHES, a partnership between OSF HealthCare and the Grainger College of Engineering at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) and its College of Medicine in Peoria. Collaborators include Chung-Yi Chiu and Ken Wilund (Kinesiology and Community Health) and Suma Bhat (Electrical and Computer Engineering) from UIUC, Dr. Ben Pflederer from OSF HealthCare Heart of Mary Medical Center, and Dr. Rehan Shah from iSpin Health.

This work will complement the Jump ARCHES grant Chin's team received in 2021, which aimed at developing a conversational agent (MintBot) to deliver brief motivational interviewing to address COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy and promote vaccine uptake. LotMintBot will similarly work as a mobile/tablet application for patients to use in a healthcare setting.

"Patients who are taking hemodialysis therapy will participate in a 12-week physical activity program and talk with the LotMintBot every week," said Chin. "In the long run, we will be collaborating with the Dialysis Clinic and integrating this with other home fitness equipment, such as an indoor cycling bike."

Chin holds a BS in psychology from National Taiwan University, an MS in human factors, and a PhD in educational psychology with a focus on cognitive science in teaching and learning from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.

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