Merion, R.M., A.D. Vinokur, Mick P. Couper, E.G. Jones, Y.H. Dong, M. Wimsatt, J. Warren, and S. Katz. 2003. "Internet-Based Intervention to Promote Organ Donor Registry Participation and Family Notification." Transplantation, 75(8): 1175-1179.
Background. Little is known regarding the potential of Internet-based educational interventions to increase organ donor registry participation and family notification of donation wishes. We studied the effects of an Internet-based multimedia intervention (www.journey.transweb.org) on donor registry participation and family notification. Methods. Visitors to a specially designed web site were studied between December 14, 2000, and March 31, 2002. Demographic characteristics were requested, and a pretest was administered to one half of the participants (selected randomly) before web site content exposure. All visitors were offered a posttest. Eight knowledge questions (true/false), three attitude questions (7-point scale), and three behaviors (yes/no) were assessed. Results. A total of 10,884 visitors provided demographic data. Correct answers to knowledge questions increased from 85.1% to 87.0% overall (pretest vs. posttest; P<0.001) and from 80.6% to 82.0% for teenagers (P<0.001). Willingness to donate increased (scores of 6.34 vs. 6.39; P<0.001), as did willingness to join a donor registry (scores of 5.53 vs. 5.67; P<0.001). Willingness measures were less positive among teenagers but increased significantly after exposure to the intervention. Almost 10% of visitors directly linked to an online registry and 2,489 (23%) used the web site facilities to communicate donation wishes. Increases in knowledge were not associated with changes in attitudes, but an increase in pro-donation attitude was a significant predictor of donor registry participation (P<0.001). Conclusions. Increases in donation attitudes among visitors to an organ donation web site resulted in positive behaviors, such as enrollment in a donor registry and family notification. Future efforts should focus on using Internet-based interventions to improve attitudes toward donation and to facilitate pro-donation behaviors.