School-based health education is a promising approach for improving organ donation rates, but little is known about its efficacy among ethnically diverse youth. The impact of a classroom intervention was examined in a multicultural high school population where students' ethnicities were 45% African American, 30% Asian American, and 33% Caucasian (allowing for multiracial choices). A baseline survey was administered to all health classes within two wk prior to intervention. On the intervention day, classes randomly assigned to the intervention group received an educational session, followed by a second survey; in control classes, the second survey was taken before the educational session. At baseline, non-Caucasian ethnicity and male gender were each associated with lower levels of willingness to donate. Following the intervention, students in the intervention group demonstrated a significant increase in knowledge scores (p < 0.001), as well as positive movement of opinion regarding willingness to donate (p < 0.0001). Most importantly, the positive changes in opinion occurred independently of ethnicity and gender, in spite of these both being negative predictors of opinion at baseline. These results demonstrate that even a single classroom exposure can impact knowledge levels, correct misinformation, and effect opinion change on organ donation among an ethnically diverse adolescent population.
© 2010 John Wiley & Sons A/S.