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Research on Social and Behavioral Interventions to Increase Organ Donation Grant Program 1999–2004

Division of Motor Vehicle-based Campaigns

Two projects used Drivers' License Bureaus as the primary context or target for interventions. A Chicago group9 developed a sequence of activities within a DMV with a predominantly African American clientele, including the distribution of ethnically tailored brochures containing information about organ donation and brief one-on-one discussions with a trained outreach worker. In addition to monitoring DMV donor registry rates, the researchers used the results of phone surveys to determine whether the intervention would have an impact on family discussions. Although donor registry rates did not improve significantly above the 26% baseline rate, people who had received the intervention and had registered as donors were significantly more likely to discuss their intentions with family members than those who had not received the intervention.

A somewhat different approach was taken by a Utah consortium10. Rather than using the DMV as the site of the intervention to promote the donor registry, the Utah team used a variety of media and other outreach strategies to promote the registry in advance of the decision-making process at DMVs. As a result of a combination of media campaigns, worksite interventions, direct mailings to zip codes where registrants were underrepresented, and other community outreach events, the donor registry grew from 54.4% to 63% of the population in just over two years. Similarly, the consent rate rose from 65.8% to 71.4% over the same period. Perhaps even more importantly, the consent rate of the families of potential donors who were on the registry was 97% (57 of 59 potential donors) while the same rate of non-registrants was 61% (51 of 83 potential donors). Thus, the registry is responsible for a net increase of 21 additional donors, representing a substantial number of additional transplants for potential recipients on the transplant waiting list. This project points to the importance of conducting further research on the impact of registries on donation rates, as well as to the potential of using DMV registry figures as evidence of the impact of public education campaigns.

Although there are few projects that focus on DMVs, this may be a promising avenue for further research for two reasons. First, DMVs represent a key point for organ donation decision-making for many people. Providing information in DMVs may assist people in making this important decision. Second, OPOs in states that have DMV-based registries have a built-in, immediate means of evaluating the effect of providing information in DMVs, or perhaps more importantly, the effect of all types of public education campaigns.


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