Background: Organ shortage for transplantation remains a serious global issue. We assessed the effects of an educational program on changing attitudes of medical students towards deceased organ donation.
Material and methods: We conducted a non-randomized trial involving medical students who had not previously signed a donor card. Third-year medical students (n=86, program group) received an information pamphlet followed by a 60-min classroom lecture by a transplant physician who was himself a kidney transplant recipient and finally another information pamphlet containing a donor card. First-year students (n=87, control group) received the same two pamphlets only. The primary outcome was signing a donor card. The secondary outcomes included willingness to sign a donor card, willingness to donate organs, family discussion about deceased organ donation, and knowledge. Outcomes were measured by questionnaires before and after the intervention.
Results: A higher proportion of students of the program group signed a donor card than the pamphlet group (8.1% vs. 0%, respectively). After propensity score adjustment, the program was associated with higher proportion of willingness to sign a donor card (91.9% vs. 73.6%; adjusted proportion ratio 1.28 [95% CI 1.11-1.48]), family discussion (18.6% vs. 6.9%; 2.85 [1.15-7.03]), and increased knowledge. There were no significant differences between the two groups in willingness to donate organs after brain death (64.0% vs. 60.9%; 1.12 [0.90-1.40]) and cardiac death (77.9% vs. 71.3%; 1.11 [0.93-1.33]).
Conclusions: The educational program delivered by a transplant physician and a recipient may alter the attitudes of medical students towards deceased organ donation.