Outreach Programs Could Increase Organ Donations by Latinos

A new study by researchers at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston finds that messages targeted directly at members of the Hispanic community could increase the number of organ donations among that population. The researchers say that increasing the number of Hispanic donors is important because the general demand for organs is higher than the supply and organ donation by the Hispanic community is lower than among other minority groups.

Between 2008 and 2010 the researchers conducted a study of members of the Hispanic community, ages 18 and older, in four southern California neighborhoods. They then created messaging about organ donation for those communities including television and radio commercials, education programs at high schools and Catholic churches, and a dedicated float about organ donation and the Hispanic community for the 2010 Tournament of Roses parade. Awareness, perceptions, beliefs and intent with respect to organ donation were compared through telephone surveys both before and two years after the outreach efforts.

Following the targeting efforts, awareness and knowledge about organ donation rose from 12.1 percent in the first survey to 17.7 percent two years later and nearly all those surveyed had read, seen or heard information about organ donation, most commonly the parade float. .

“The intent to donate increased by 55 percent in the two years after implementation of our community outreach efforts,” said Ali Salim, MD, Chief of Division of Trauma, Burns and Surgical Critical Care at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. “These findings validate the positive effects of the outreach efforts in the long term and may translate into increased donor registration rates in the near future,” Salim said.

The study was published in JAMA Surgery and supported by a grant from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.

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