Assessing medical student knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors regarding organ donation

C Essman, J Thornton
Transplantation Proceedings 2006, 38 (9): 2745-50

PURPOSE: To measure medical students' knowledge of the central issues in organ donation and transplantation and to understand their perception of the extent of training they received prior to and during medical school.

METHODS: A previously validated, 41-question instrument assessing organ donation, allocation, and transplantation knowledge was directly administered to 537 first- and second-year medical students attending one of three Ohio schools from January through April 2005. Students were also asked about their support for organ donation and the donation training they had received.

RESULTS: Two hundred sixty four first-year and 236 second-year students responded (response rate = 93%). Few students to date received donation and transplantation training before (11%) or during (22%) medical school. Second-year students were more likely than first-year students to have received training during medical school (40% vs 6%, P < .001) and to have read articles regarding donation (24% vs 15%, P = .017). However, both first- and second-year medical students answered the majority of the knowledge questions incorrectly (43% vs 48%, P < .002). Knowledge regarding brain death was lower among medical students compared to a random sample of Ohio adults (P < .001). Donation coursework prior to or during medical school was significantly associated with an increased knowledge regarding donation (odds ratio [OR] = 2.01, P = .001) and knowing where to find answers to patients' questions regarding donation (OR = 2.76, P < .001).

CONCLUSION: Medical students have significant gaps in knowledge regarding the organ donation and transplantation system. Donation and transplantation education is associated with improved knowledge in the area and comfort in knowing how to address patient questions.

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