Donor Designation Among Mature Latinas and Lay Health Educators (Promotoras): A Mixed-Methods Study

Elisa J. Gordon, Heather Gardiner*, Laura A. Siminoff, Patrick J. Kelly, Chidera Agu, Megan Urbanski, Gerard P. Alolod, Amanda Benitez, Ilda Hernandez, Nancy Guinansaca, Lori Ramos Winther, Caroline D. Bergeron, Rachel Kim, Antonette Montalvo, Tony Gonzalez

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Despite positive public attitudes toward solid organ donation in the United States, some of the lowest rates of donor designation persist among older adults and Latinx populations. Aims: To identify barriers and facilitators to organ donation and donor designation among lay health educators (promotoras) and mature Latina (50+ years). Methods: An explanatory sequential mixed-method design was employed, with telephone surveys followed by focus group interviews, to assess and understand the nuances of organ donation and donor designation knowledge, attitudes, and practices among promotoras and mature Latinas in Chicago (IL), Philadelphia (PA), and San Antonio (TX). Descriptive statistics summarized quantitative survey data; thematic content analysis was performed on qualitative data. Results: Twenty-nine promotoras and 45 mature Latina participated in both the surveys and focus groups (N = 74). Most participants (90%) had limited knowledge of organ donation but reported being “somewhat” or “strongly” in favor of donation (70%); 40.5% were registered donors. Participants lacked knowledge about the registration process and its legal standing and upheld concerns that registered donors would be vulnerable to organ traffickers or targets for murder. Themes emerging from the group interviews revealed additional barriers to designation including distrust of the medical establishment, perceptions of inequities in organ allocation, and family resistance to discussing death. Discussion: Low donor designation rates are primarily driven by concerns about organ trafficking and the fairness of the allocation system, particularly for undocumented immigrants. Conclusions: The results informed development of a culturally targeted educational and communication skills intervention to increase donor designation in Latinx communities. Trial registration: NCT04007419.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalHealth Education and Behavior
StateAccepted/In press - 2020


  • community health workers
  • donor designation
  • health disparities
  • Hispanics
  • Latinx
  • lay health educators
  • mixed-methods research
  • organ donation
  • promotoras

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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