Term of Award

Fall 1996

Degree Name

Master of Science in Nursing

Document Type and Release Option

Thesis (restricted to Georgia Southern)

Committee Chair

Charlene Hanson

Committee Member 1

Anne Scott

Committee Member 2

June Alberto

Abstract

There is an increasing demand for and an almost stagnant supply of donated organs. The resulting imbalance equates to an annual loss of hundreds of lives. Barriers to the organ donation process such as public misconception and lack of knowledge about organ donation along with health professional reticence are most often cited as causing or adding to the problem. The purpose of this study was to discover if there is a difference between willingness to donate organs and knowledge level about organ donation. A questionnaire was created and administered to ninety-one participants at a state university health fair.

The theoretical framework utilized for this study was Bandura's Social Learning Theory. This theory postulates that knowledge can bring about a change in attitudes and behaviors. The hypothesis for this study was: People who have higher knowledge scores on the Organ Donation Index of Knowledge Questionnaire (ODIKQ) are more likely to indicate that they would be willing to donate their organs than those with lower scores.

The literature review revealed that misconceptions about organ donation due to an underlying lack of knowledge or misinformation and health professional reticence to discuss donation has resulted in a loss of potential donors and a dwindling donor pool. One vital misconception is the belief that once a donor card is signed the wishes of the bearer will be carried out. This is not so if the family objects or is not aware of the wishes of the potential donor to participate in the organ donation process.

Ninety-one Organ Donation Knowledge Questionnaires were completed by health fair participants at a mid-size university in the southeastern United States. This questionnaire was designed to identify how participants' general knowledge, beliefs and attitudes relating to organ donation differed with the willingness to donate organs. Nine of the questions were based on common misconceptions identified in the literature review and a point system was devised to quantify a knowledge score.

Findings showed that there was a statistically significant difference between knowledge level about organ donation and the decision to donate organs. As hypothesized those with higher knowledge scores were more willing to donate their organs. In light of these findings recommendations were made for further research and for the design of a patient centered organ donation education program aimed at maintaining individual autonomy at a time of reasonable good health when the person is able to make their own decisions regarding organ donation.

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