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Prog Transplant. 2012 Mar;22(1):79-85, 109.

Impact of preclinical exposure to organ donation on knowledge and attitudes of medical students.

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University of California, San Francisco, School of Medicine, 513 Parnassus Ave, San Francisco, CA 94117, USA.



Medical students receive little exposure to organ donation and procurement programs.


To describe a student-run elective and its effect on participants' knowledge about and attitudes toward organ donation.


Preclinical students interacted directly with donor families, organ recipients, and donation representatives; many participated in an organ procurement with the surgical team.


Between 2005 and 2007, 13 students who participated in the elective and a procurement were compared with 72 students who took the elective but did not participate in a procurement and with 22 control students. Students who participated in a procurement wrote reflections about their experience. In 2010, 15 first-year students who participated in the elective and a procurement and 59 randomly selected control students completed a previously validated measure.


Themes included awe, surgical procedures, learning opportunities, and brain death. Regardless of procurement participation, the elective participants from 2005 to 2007 reported higher 4-item knowledge scores (P<.001) than control students reported, but their 4-item attitude scores did not differ (P = .21). The 2010 students did not differ from control students in their number of correct responses to the 20 knowledge questions (P = .48) or their individual responses to each of the 14 attitude questions (all P>.05).


Although elective participants reflected positively on their experiences and professed greater knowledge than control students via a researcher-made tool, these results were not sustained with a previously validated measure. These results point to the need for careful elective design and the need for more accurate measures to study the effectiveness of such interventions.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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