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U.S. Government Information on Organ and Tissue Donation and Transplantation
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Research on Social and Behavioral Interventions to Increase Organ Donation Grant Program 1999-2004

Community Outreach Campaigns

Public education programs in most organ procurement organizations (OPOs) in the U.S. tend to focus the bulk of their energy on community outreach events. These are generally low-cost activities with the opportunity to address myths and misconceptions about organ donation in a manner that is tailored to individual populations (e.g., school-aged children, church congregants, minority populations). Moreover, such events allow OPOs to put a "human face" on organ donation because OPOs frequently include testimonials from transplant recipients or donor family members as part of their outreach strategy.

Most of the funded programs in this area included multiple strategies, the most common of which was to support community outreach events with mass media campaigns; these projects are discussed in the next section. Other successful strategies have been implemented by DoT-funded projects, including community outreach activities paired with hospital-based activities, efforts to re-train OPO requestors to be more effective through improved communication or to become more sensitive to important cultural issues, and/or to use OPO requesters who are culturally similar to potential donor families. The effectiveness of hospital-based aspects of these projects is evaluated in a subsequent section ("Hospital-Based Interventions"). Projects that were primarily based on community outreach but that reported airing radio PSAs, for example, but did not engage in a systematic evaluation of this (minor) media component are categorized for the purposes of this report to be "community outreach campaigns" and are discussed in this section.

Most community outreach projects systematically combine events that are held in different settings or that are designed to systematically target particular populations. One such example targeted the Asian and African American communities of central California1. First, community outreach workers who were members of the African American, Chinese, and Filipino communities were hired and trained. Second, activities of these outreach workers focused on settings and events within the targeted communities, including churches, schools, and ethnic festivals. By partnering with community-based sponsors of these events, OPOs realized a very useful long-term benefit: greater credibility within these minority communities. Two key outcome measures demonstrated the effectiveness of this comprehensive approach (which also included hiring culturally similar requesters). The results of a random sample pre- and post- telephone survey of community members showed significant improvements in the intent to donate organs. A second outcome measure showed an impressive increase in actual consent rates during the project period, compared to previous years. It is estimated that approximately 80 additional transplantable organs were realized as a direct result of the project over just two years, demonstrating the cost-effectiveness of a relatively simple set of outreach strategies.


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