Beyond the organ donor card: the effect of knowledge, attitudes, and values on willingness to communicate about organ donation to family members

Health Commun. 2002;14(1):121-34. doi: 10.1207/S15327027HC1401_6.


Although numerous studies have examined many of the predictors of signing an organ donor card, including knowledge, attitudes, values, and demographic variables, very few have examined the factors associated with individuals' willingness to communicate about organ donation with family members. Because organ donation does not take place without the permission of a person's next-of-kin, government agencies and organ procurement organizations have targeted communication with family members as a primary objective of organ donation campaigns. This study reports the results of a survey of a stratified random sample of adults at 2 local sites of a national employer. Results indicate that knowledge, attitude, and altruism are significantly related to 2 measures of willingness to communicate: past behavior (whether respondents had already discussed organ donation with family members) and a scale measuring willingness to communicate about organ donation in the future. Because the quality of discussions between the potential donor and his or her family will depend on how well the donor is able to address vital issues regarding donation, it is concluded that campaigns seeking to promote communication between family members about organ donation must simultaneously seek to increase knowledge, debunk myths, and bolster positive attitudes about donation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Communication
  • Family
  • Female
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mass Media
  • Middle Aged
  • Models, Psychological
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Tissue Donors / psychology*