Background: Physicians' knowledge of and attitudes towards organ donation may be a factor in organ procurement rates. There is a lack of information about how Canadian medical students perceive organ donation, and what they know about it.
Objective: This pilot study assesses the knowledge and attitudes of university students toward organ donation.
Methods: Medical students completed a self-administered questionnaire after a lecture. Non-medical students completed the same questionnaire at the university student center. The questionnaire included a test that was used to assess knowledge about organ donation. Attitudes were assessed by determining whether the student carried a signed organ donor card, and their reasons if they did not.
Results: Of the 76 students in the first-year medical class, 39 responded. A sample of the first 40 non-medical students to visit a booth at the student centre was selected for comparative analysis. The mean age of medical students was 23.5 years; 23 for non-medical students. Of those surveyed, 56.6 per cent were women. Of medical students, 30.8 per cent reported carrying a signed card compared with 50 per cent of non-medical students. The most common reason for not carrying a card in both groups was apathy. Median test scores were 2.4/6 for both groups. Students carrying a signed card had a median test score of 2.7/6, with the median score for those not carrying signed cards being 2.2/6.
Conclusion: More investigation of the knowledge and attitudes of medical students regarding organ donation is warranted.