Date of Award

1-1-2010

Document Type

Campus Access Dissertation

Department

College of Nursing

Sub-Department

Nursing Practice

First Advisor

Beverly Baliko

Abstract

Each day eighteen Americans die waiting for organ donations and 4,100 more are added to the transplant waiting list each month (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2010a&c). The number of Americans in need of organ donations is rising rapidly but the supply of donated organs is not keeping pace. This disparity could be overcome by increasing the number of actual or potential organ donors.

Research showed that a majority of the American public (95%) supports organ donation and organ donation efforts (Gallup, 2005). However, less than 50% of those in support of donation actually become donors. Major barriers such as myths and misconceptions about organ donation prevent a considerably large number of potential donors from donating. Other major barriers to organ donation involved the timing and setting related to requesting donation. Health professional reticence emerged as an important barrier when requesting donation occurred in an acute (hospital) end of life context.

Overcoming these barriers through educational initiatives could significantly increase donations. Health professionals are the preferred educators in regard to answering questions about organ donation (Gallup, 2005). Therefore, a primary care organ donation educational initiative was designed to provide participants with brief, but pertinent, information regarding organ donation aimed at dispelling myths in order to evaluate if there was an increase in individual willingness to donate.

Educating and requesting donation status while the patient is in good health relieves both the family and health care provider of facing organ donation education in an acute setting at the time of the patient's death. This practice innovation project involved designing, implementing and evaluating an evidence-based intervention in a military primary care setting. Evaluation of the innovation showed that this educational initiative was well received and resulted in increased willingness of participants to donate their organs.

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