Studies demonstrate that family notification is much less frequent in African Americans than in Caucasians. Familial notification of one’s decision to become a registered organ donor (ROD) is important to ensure adherence to the decedent’s donation decision and to disseminate pro-donation attitudes.

The purpose of this study was to explore the experiences of familial notification among recent African American RODs and to identify intervention strategies to overcome potential barriers to the notification process. Dr. David Redden, professor in the department of biostatistics at UAB’s School of Public Health, was one of the members of the research team.

The focus groups consisted of 50 African American participants who had recently visited Alabama Department of Motorized Vehicles and made the voluntary decision (yes or no) about becoming an organ donor. Three major themes describing the African American experiences with notifying their family members about their decision to become a ROD emerged. These themes were as follows: motivation for the notification, notification conversation, and promoting familial notification. Specific discussions centered upon the importance of and barriers to familial notification, information, and strategies needed for successful notification. Strategies identified were use of media and social networks to provide enhanced knowledge on the importance of health-care, community-provided knowledge about the donation process.

Findings from this study provide a framework for future interventions designed to assist African American RODs in notifying family members of their status.

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