Communicating effectively about donation: an educational intervention to increase consent to donation

Prog Transplant. 2009 Mar;19(1):35-43. doi: 10.1177/152692480901900105.


Context: Families' refusal to consent to solid organ donation is a major contributor to the organ deficit in the United States. Previous research has identified organ procurement coordinators as best able to obtain consent from families; however, few studies have examined the effects of coordinator training programs on consent rates.

Objective: To test the effects of the Communicating Effectively About Donation intervention on the rate of family consent to solid organ donation.

Design: A nonrandomized repeated measures design.

Setting and participants: Participants included 17 hospitals, 502 donor-eligible patients and their families, and 22 coordinators from an organ procurement organization in Ohio.

Intervention: Coordinators were given in-service training on the use of effective relational and affective communication techniques through a day-long interactive workshop and simulated donation scenarios.

Main outcome measures: Families' final donation decision and coordinators' donation-related behaviors.

Results: Training of coordinators was associated with increases in coordinators' comfort speaking with patients' families about donation and answering donation-related questions, in the amount of time coordinators spent discussing donation with family members, and in the number of donation-related topics discussed with families. Consent rates increased from 46.3% to 55.5% after the intervention.

Conclusions: The results suggest that improving coordinators' communication skills may be a fruitful avenue for increasing the rate of family consent to donation; however, a more definitive test of the training is needed to confirm the intervention's effectiveness.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Communication
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Inservice Training / methods*
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Ohio
  • Professional-Family Relations*
  • Program Evaluation
  • Third-Party Consent* / statistics & numerical data
  • Tissue Donors*
  • Tissue and Organ Procurement* / statistics & numerical data