Organ donation is offered as an option on driver's licenses nationwide, but not everyone signs up. Especially underrepresented are minorities, yet matching organs genetically is known to produce the best outcomes, so the need to increase the number of minority donors is great. Now a video intervention (delivered via iPod! as Rick and I applaud in the podcast) has been shown to significantly increase the number of minority donors, as reported in the current issue of Annals of Internal Medicine.
In this study researchers first developed a five-minute video in which a broad spectrum of people discuss organ donation. I watched it and you can too, by clicking on the hyperlink in the paper. While you're watching, check out this week's YouTube as well! Young, old, Asian, African American, Hispanic, male, female, they're all here. They've received organs, watched loved ones die waiting, made the choice to donate themselves, and just generally discuss the issue without hyperbole. My hat is off to these folks for giving a balanced and informative perspective without casting aspersions or invoking guilt.
People coming into the department of motor vehicles to obtain a driver's license, identification card or learner's permit in Ohio were asked about their willingness to participate in the study. They needed to speak English and had not previously consented to be an organ donor. Parents of those participants younger than 18 years of age were asked for consent on behalf of their child, and participants were given $10.00 at completion of the intervention.
Those who agreed to participate were randomized to either view the video, using an iPod and headphones, then continue their business at the motor vehicle administration, or simply undergo routine processing at the motor vehicle administration. The video specifically addresses several concerns identified in previous research as precluding someone's willingness to sign up as an organ donor. As study subjects left the building they were asked to show the researcher their driver's license, identification card or permit, on which the organ donor status is clearly printed.
Data from 952 subjects is included in the analysis. 84% of the intervention group consented to become organ donors while 72% of the control group did so. Among black participants, 75% of the intervention group consented, compared with 54% of the control group.
Wow. A simple intervention is able to increase participation by significant percentages. That's powerful, and couldn't come at a better time, since the list of people awaiting transplant grows longer and longer, in spite of the fact that thousands die each year while waiting. As I opine to Rick in the podcast, I'd love to see the promulgation of this strategy nationally, as well as production of another video talking about the need for advance directives, another area ripe for education and informed choice.
Other topics this week include another from Annals on overdiagnosis and overtreatment of invasive breast cancer, and two from JAMA: screening methods for breast cancer and retinal detachment following use of common antibiotics. Until next week, y'all live well.