WEDNESDAY, Oct. 16, 2013 (HealthDay News) -- An organ-donation campaign based in Illinois Department of Motor Vehicle offices boosted the number of people who registered as donors, according to a new study.
Surveys show that more than 90 percent of Americans support organ donations, but less than half register as donors. The University of Illinois researchers wanted to assess the effect of promoting organ donation at DMV offices, where most people make their decision about organ donation.
The study included 40 DMV offices in the state. Brochures, counter mats and posters were placed in 20 of those offices for four months in 2011. The researchers also trained volunteers at those offices to hand out materials and provide information to visitors. A media campaign with radio, roadside and bus ads took place in the areas served by the offices.
The other 20 offices in the study served as a comparison group.
A significant reduction was seen in the downward trend for organ-donation registration at the 20 offices targeted by the campaign, compared to the other offices, according to the findings in the current issue of the journal Clinical Transplantation.
The improvement was not dramatic but was meaningful because most of those who registered had likely been asked before and declined as part of previous license renewals, said Brian Quick, a professor in the department of communication and in the College of Medicine.
"We were not going after the lowest-hanging fruit [with the campaign]," Quick said in a university news release. "We were seeking people who were resistant to registering as organ donors."
Drivers have been asked about organ donation as part of their license renewal since Illinois created a first-person, legally binding consent registry in 2006.
The reasons people refuse to register as organ donors are unclear, but may involve factors such as fear, distrust and just not wanting to do it, Quick said.
"Our research suggests, however, that individuals are much more likely to say yes when they understand that as many as eight lives can be saved, and 25 others improved, by a single donor," he added.
The U.S. National Library of Medicine has more about organ donation.