Intention to register as organ donors: a survey of adolescents

Daniel Baughn, James R Rodrigue, Danielle L Cornell
Progress in Transplantation 2006, 16 (3): 260-7

BACKGROUND: Little is known about factors that influence the intention of adolescents to register as organ donors. The identification of such factors has important implications for the development and implementation of educational programs and subsequent donor registration rates.

OBJECTIVE: To determine whether adolescents with an expressed commitment to becoming organ donor registrants differ significantly from nondonors on sociodemographic characteristics and factors influencing their decision.

PARTICIPANTS: Four hundred forty-five adolescents visiting a Department of Motor Vehicles office for a permit or license (n=153) or attending a driver's education course (n=292) completed a semistructured interview and questionnaire.

RESULTS: Female (52.6%) and white (55.8%) adolescents were more likely to have favorable donation intentions relative to male (45.6%) and nonwhite (39.0%) adolescents (chi2 = 7.5, P = .02, and chi2 = 19.7, P = .003, respectively). Those with favorable donation intentions also endorsed significantly more positive factors (benevolence, need awareness, existentialism) as being more important in their decision. Adolescents who did not want to donate (58.7%) and those who were undecided (23.1%) were less likely to have discussed their decision with parents than were those who wanted to donate (67.7%, chi2 = 63.6, P = .0001). Finally, providing adolescents with a free driver's license in exchange for organ donor registration would have the greatest impact on registering undecided adolescents (29.8%, chi2 = 33.2, P = .0001).

CONCLUSIONS: There is a pressing need for more systematic and culturally sensitive organ donation education directed toward adolescents, and the Department of Motor Vehicles and driver's education courses may be appropriate venues. An educational program from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Decision: Donation, could be used in this context.

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