Contest Inspires Patients to Reach Treatment Goals
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Contest Inspires Patients to Reach Treatment Goals

By Lisa Maurer, MSW, LSW, ACSW

In June 1997, one of our nurses, Mike, began building his house in anticipation of his wedding the following summer. Our dialysis patients became so involved in Mike’s day-to-day activities that we decided to start a “house-building contest.” Our goal was to see who could build a log house first—Mike or our patients.

Our patients “built” their model house on a 3-dimensional poster in the clinic, based on treatment-related goals. Each time a patient presented for treatment, weight was taken. If weight was maintained within the target range*, a one-inch log (made from a wooden dowel rod) with the patient’s name was added to the poster. Each time a patient’s Ca x PO4 product was equal to or less than 70 mg2/dL2, they’d get a shingle (made of sandpaper) for the roof. For a PCRn greater than 1.1, a “finishing touch” was added to the house.

It took almost eight months, but through the hard work of our patients, the log house was complete at last—with logs, windows, shingles, and flower boxes. Patients’ pictures peered out of the windows and the doorway, greeting viewers. Clouds hovered over the house for atmosphere. Although Mike was already married and moved in by this point, we hear he’s still putting finishing touches on his house.


The most rewarding outcome of this contest was the achievement of treatment goals by many of our patients. The competition inspired them to strive to reach their goals and take pride in their accomplishments.

As a bonus, we also received awards for poster presentations of the house-building contest. In May 1998, the poster was submitted in its early phase to the “Fun in Dialysis Contest” at the annual tri-state multidisciplinary nephrology conference held in Pittsburgh, PA. It received first prize with a cash award. We entered the final version of the poster in the 1999 “Fun in Dialysis Contest” and again won first prize with a cash award. We also entered the poster contest at DCI’s (Dialysis Clinic, Inc.) annual corporate meeting in October 1998, winning first place and $1000. The money is being used for patient services in our clinic.

Editor’s Note: Current literature suggests that assessing interdialytic weight gain is challenging because there is no standard measure of dry weight. For more information on this topic, see “Assessment of Dry Weight in Hemodialysis: An Overview,” by JQ Jaeger and RL Mehta, in the February 1999 issue of the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology, 10(2):392-403.

Name: Lisa Maurer, MSW, LSW, ACSW
Title: Social Worker
Organization: Dialysis Clinic, Inc.
Jeannette, PA
Date: May 1999