Designing an educational strategy for increasing organ donor registration among older adults

Kimberly Downing, Linda L Jones
Progress in Transplantation 2008, 18 (4): 290-6

CONTEXT: Older adults (50-70 years of age) have lower organ donor registration rates than younger adults. Despite recent increases in organ donation registration of adults 18 to 49 years of age, the increase in older adult registrations is less.

OBJECTIVE: To use research results from surveys and focus groups to inform an educational strategy and design for the older adult population.

DESIGN: Pooled survey data from 3 statewide random-digit dial telephone interview surveys of 6230 adults, including 2631 respondents age 50 or older, were used to identify barriers to organ donor registration and information needs of older adults compared with younger adults. Two focus groups with older adults were used to further identify barriers and to pilot test messages for an educational strategy for older adults.

SETTING AND PARTICIPANTS: Surveys were conducted with adults in Ohio. Focus groups were conducted in 2 major cities in Ohio with older adults, 50 to 70 years of age.

RESULTS: Survey results indicate that older adults and younger adults differ on several factors regarding their beliefs, attitudes, and behavior concerning organ donation. Although older adults express positive attitudes toward donation, they often "opt out" from registering to be organ donors for age and health reasons. Focus groups show similar barriers to organ donor registration and indicate that brochures are a preferred way to educate older adults about organ donation.

CONCLUSION: Using research results to identify barriers and information needs of specific demographic groups is very important in designing a targeted educational strategy. An educational campaign addressing the concerns and information needs of this age group could increase organ donor registration.

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