Analysis of State Actions Regarding Donor Registries. Public Awareness and Education


Approach to Public Awareness and Education. Public awareness and education consists of several broad issues. First among these is the type of message that should be conveyed to the public, or more precisely, the "level" of information. A progressively focused public awareness campaign may consist of an initial introduction of the topic of donation, followed by an effort to develop public knowledge of the donor registry, concluding with a campaign to encourage people to sign up in the registry, and describe how to do so. A more complex model, such as the transtheoretical model of communication (See, may be more appropriate for education and awareness campaigns. The specific media used to disseminate the message may include television, spots preceding movie showings, literature distributed at health and wellness fairs, or the World Wide Web. The approach taken will largely depend on the audience being targeted: professionals, young people, specific socioeconomic groups, or some other specified group.

Targeting Key Groups. An important target audience includes those individuals on the front lines of the registry process, that is, personnel in departments of motor vehicles, licensing offices, or elsewhere where the public might come into contact with agents who may be charged with providing information about the registry. Conference participants emphasized the importance of educating such personnel about ways to clearly explain the benefits of donation to the lay public, present the option to become part of the donor registry in a positive light, and even to become proactive proponents of the donor registry.

Tracking and Evaluation. The success of varying methods of education and awareness building can be tracked via the same system used to disseminate the information. Coding public education and awareness literature (i.e., coded to the location where it was distributed) and tracking which methods are used in which circumstances, and determining which methods are most successful in those areas, can provide the procurement community with valuable evaluative information. In one area, for example, tracking data may show that distribution of materials at a house of worship has a greater effect on increasing donor registry participation compared to materials distributed at a sporting event. The recovery community can then use this information to alter and refine their approaches as appropriate.

Public Trust. Finally, the group emphasized that paramount among the purposes of public education is to develop and maintain public trust. This is facilitated by recovery agencies and policy makers being forthright and transparent about their policies and activities, and educating the public about not only the donation process, but the procurement community as well. Putting a "human face" on the donation process may help people to feel more comfortable with joining the donor registry.