A clinical group's attempt to raise awareness of organ and tissue donation

Margot E Rykhoff, Catherine Coupland, Joanna Dionne, Brad Fudge, Charlene Gayle, Terri-Lynn Ortner, Kristina Quilang, Geta Savu, Fatima Sawany, Marzena Wrobleska
Progress in Transplantation 2010, 20 (1): 33-9

CONTEXT: Little is known about factors that influence attitudes and beliefs about organ and tissue donation among health science college students.

OBJECTIVE: To assess health sciences college students' knowledge, attitudes, and beliefs about organ donation and to determine if an educational session increases awareness and influences their attitudes and beliefs related to organ donation.

DESIGN: Quantitative quasi-experimental study with semistructured questions administered to a convenience sample.

SETTING: School of health sciences in a large, urban, multicultural community college in Ontario, Canada.

PARTICIPANTS: 240 health sciences' college students from 6 academic programs: bachelor of nursing from first and fourth year, practical nursing, paramedic, funeral services, and occupational therapy/physical therapy assistant.

INTERVENTION: An educational session and 7-minute audiovisual presentation on organ donation. The educational session included a 20-minute PowerPoint presentation addressing statistics of organ and tissue need and donation; types of donation--deceased (brain-dead), live, and tissue; clarification on the criteria for brain death; donor cards; family consent, including clarification that the family member has the ultimate decision to sign it and the importance of communicating one's wishes to one's family; and religious beliefs and common myths and misconceptions.

RESULTS: Of 235 students who completed the postintervention survey, 86% (n = 202) were more aware of organ donation, and 85% (n = 199) were more aware of living donation. Awareness of the need for family consent for donation increased significantly (from 52% to 96%, P < .001). The percentage of participants willing to donate their organs increased from 52% to 63% (n = 26, P < .01). Among the 20% of participants (n = 47) who responded that they would not donate their organs, the predominant rationale was "fear."

CONCLUSIONS: Educational sessions in the health sciences curriculum can increase awareness of organ and tissue donation.

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