Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Dissertation



First Advisor

David Simmons


This study applies framing theory within a critical-interpretive anthropological context to understand how organ procurement organizations (OPOs) design messages to promote organ donation registration and how cultural factors including notions of embodiment and structural inequalities influence audiences’ processing of those messages. The first part of the study employs content analysis to deductively identify OPO-produced message frames. The second part of the study uses focus groups across South Carolina to explore audience reactions to different message frames. Themes from donors and non-donors alike reflected a mistrust of the medical establishment, a keen awareness of structural inequality, and complex notions of embodiment that may be responsible for low donor designation rates. I propose a new model of organ donation registration behavior that incorporates these cultural factors and recommend that effective messaging should first address cultural mistrust of the U.S. healthcare system.


© 2015, Jeremy T. VanderKnyff

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Anthropology Commons