The African American Transplant Access Program, or AATAP, is a program within the Division of Transplantation at Northwestern Medicine. AATAP is structured based on 4 pillars of intervention: Trust, Cultural Competency, Health Literacy and Diet, and Psychosocial Support. These pillars were created based on the medical literature, as well as feedback from the community and community leaders.
Distrust has been demonstrated to be a major barrier to organ donation and interactions with healthcare in general. Anecdotal evidence from interactions with Black patients, and consensus from community conversations, revealed that interactions with healthcare providers set the tone for trust, and this has also been evident in the literature. Drawing from this literature and from community conversations, a major piece of AATAP’s intervention is to re-earn trust using provider-patient racial concordance and patient-centered communication. The initial clinic visit includes evaluation by a Black physician (Dr. Simpson) and social worker. It is a lengthy initial evaluation visit that centers the patient, uses lay terminology, and is not constrained by time. During these visits, myths and misconceptions about transplantation are explored and debunked, as these are commonly present and exacerbate distrust of the healthcare system. Following the intake visit, there are regular check-ins by both Dr. Simpson and the social worker to answer questions, provide support, and shepherd the patient toward listing and transplantation.