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Organ Donation: Opportunities for Action
Although many organizations, states, and government agencies have developed excellent educational materials and interventions, at present no centralized set of culturally sensitive materials on organ donation exists. Such materials would provide a valuable resource for many states and organ donation organizations.
Next Steps for Public Education
For public education to be effective, it is important to consider the way in which messages are conveyed. The message should be highly visible, presented in a clear and easy-to-understand format, presented so it is accessible to individuals of various educational levels, and provided by a trustworthy source that is sensitive to the ethnicity and cultural values of the target community. It has been suggested that the most effective messengers come in the form of transplant recipients and donors, donor families, and donor candidates (Callender and Maddox, 2004). There is a need to provide information that will address specific issues of concern and dispel myths regarding organ donation. For example, recent changes in allocation policies (e.g., changes made in the allocation algorithm to deemphasize the importance of human leukocyte antigen typing for kidney transplantation) should be highlighted with explanations of the potential positive impact of these changes on reductions in waiting times for African-American candidates for transplantation (Chapter 2).
Entertainment and media outlets, particularly individuals responsible for media content including writers and producers, have responsibilities to accurately portray organ donation efforts and are encouraged to continue to work with the organ transplant community to ensure that myths and misperceptions are not perpetuated.
Improving and extending public education will require the efforts of the many stakeholders and organizations involved, including nonprofit organizations, entertainment and media organizations, community coalitions, OPOs, hospitals, HRSA, NIH, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
HRSA has been the locus of much government funding in this area, and as requested in the charge to the committee, Appendix E provides an examination of the HRSA Division of Transplantation’s extramural research program in which a variety of public education and other approaches are being explored. One of the many strengths of the program is that the grants are required to be developed with a strong evaluation component. Further, the team submitting the grant proposal must be constituted as a consortium that includes an academic or other research-based partner. HRSA also provides extensive technical assistance. Limited funding is of concern as it has placed constraints on the potential to explore additional innovative