Increasing Organ Donation and Transplantation: The Challenge of Evaluation. C. Public Awareness


Perhaps the programs with the highest profile nationally are those that are geared towards raising public awareness towards organ donation issues. There are 269 million people in the US, only a very small fraction of whom will become potential donors (fewer than 20,000 annually). Consequently, for every potential donor, a public awareness campaign must reach, on average, approximately 13,000 people. Casting such a wide net for a small number of donors complicates evaluation of actual effect on donation. However, there are intermediate measures that can be especially useful in gauging programs’ important side effects, such as public education and awareness. Though these do not correlate directly with donation, they can be considered worthy goals on their own in that they can affect national and regional acceptance and support of organ donation programs.

Sample hypothesis: A statewide media campaign consisting of radio and print ads will increase the organ donation rate in the state.

Sample evaluation options:

  1. Survey 100 families who chose to donate organs and 100 families who chose not to donate organs to determine if the media campaign had any effect on their decision.
  • Strengths: controlled; focused on families closest to actual donation.
  • Weaknesses: retrospective; response rate to survey may vary by donors and non-donors, biasing results; donating families may have self-selected for reasons other than media campaign.
  1. Field a survey that classifies respondents according to the five stages of change, based on Prochaska’s transtheoretical change model (1992), before and at two month intervals after the media campaign is implemented.
  • Strengths: prospective; stronger measure of campaign success than general public opinion survey.
  • Weaknesses: self-controlled; not proximal to actual donation event (pre-event measure).