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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

Minority-focused Campaigns

One of the most notable features of the Division of Transplantation's grant program is the number of theory-based interventions that include a special (or exclusive) focus on minority populations. Especially important are campaigns targeting African Americans not only because of the disproportionate lack of willingness to donate organs, but also because African Americans are overrepresented on the transplant waiting list. Hispanics, the largest minority group in the U.S., face not only cultural barriers to accepting organ donation but frequently language barriers as well. The attitudes, knowledge, and behavioral willingness of other minority populations such as various Asian groups, the Arabic/Chaldean community, American Indians, and others, remain largely a mystery to researchers as well as to public educators in the organ procurement community. The DoT program has funded successful endeavors that shed light on the types of interventions that may be the most successful in a variety of cultural communities.

In 2004, DoT funded a number of special 2-year projects that required grantees to create media and grassroots campaigns that focus on minority communities. At least 75% of funds were required to be spent on media buys, a requirement that was intended to help test whether some degree of media saturation would produce a measurable increase in key outcomes of interest in minority communities. These projects will conclude next year; however, where available, preliminary findings from these projects are presented.

Many projects with an emphasis on minority communities targeted more than one community, depending on which minority groups predominated in an OPO's service area. A number of the findings have been discussed in earlier report sections; therefore, this section will focus on findings particular to each group.

African Americans/Blacks

Most projects targeting African Americans (or Blacks, a term that encompasses people of Caribbean or West Indian descent) focus on churches as an important setting for community-based outreach. In addition to this, successful projects have concentrated on building community partnerships with Black community and professional organizations and have made concerted efforts to have a presence at all community events, including having information tables staffed by African American staff and volunteers or even sponsoring one or more of these events. Cultural similarity of community outreach workers as well as transplant coordinators was a key part of successful interventions targeting the African American community.


Hispanic outreach campaigns have been largely successful and have several elements in common. First, Spanish-language media messages were placed in Spanish-language programming. Similarly, Spanish-speaking outreach workers (either traditional OPO community education professionals or trained promotores) were a key element to building a presence in the community and delivering organ donation messages to the community. Second, as with outreach in the African American community, building partnerships with business, professional, and community organizations and developing a consistent presence at Hispanic community events was another important strategy in successful campaigns. Both pre/post evaluation phone surveys (conducted in Spanish) and monitoring of Hispanic consent rates (compared to consent rates of Whites) demonstrated the success of these interventions in increasing the willingness to donate and improving perceptions of family and community support for organ donation.


There are only two campaigns thusfar that specifically target the Asian community (rather than simply monitoring the effect of a general campaign on Asians). However, these campaigns demonstrate the importance of employing culturally similar outreach workers and/or requestors who speak the language of the targeted community. As OneLegacy points out, however, the Asian community is not mono-lingual; many languages are spoken even among people from a single country (China). However, by targeting the largest Asian groups and by building relationships with reporters from the newspapers that serve these communities, information about organ donation was able to be disseminated.


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