Organ donation advocacy is imperative. College students are traditionally outspoken advocates for social causes and while studies have demonstrated their positive attitudes about organ donation, limited activism for the cause has been seen in this population. A recent study identified several barriers to motivating college students to become donor advocates, including an absence of personal connection to donation, and limited accurate knowledge about organ donation and the donor registration process.
In an effort to increase awareness among college students, our center created a grassroots organ donation advocacy group. We engage in academic social activism, to educate the local higher education community in personalized ways on the importance of becoming an organ donor. Novel platforms are utilized to share our message including social media, an important venue for this population as the vast majority (73%) of young adults actively use social media.
In order to assess the efficacy and use of social media as a platform for organ donation advocacy, particularly in the college population, we examined our web-based reach and connectivity. Measurements include the groups website (visitors), Twitter account (followers and message reach via retweets and mentions), YouTube (video views) and Facebook page (unique viewers of page content).
Within the first year of our groups creation, chapters have been established at 3 local colleges, with over 50 members. Website hits have increase from 22,345 to 51,798 per month over the past year. On Twitter we are averaging over 30 new followers/month, and as a result of retweets and mentions, our messages have had the potential to be shared with 25,000 twitter users. A talk by one of our groups founders addressing the organ shortage crisis and donation myths has been viewed over 6,700 times on YouTube. Our Facebook page averages a monthly reach of nearly 15,000 individuals, the majority of who are between the ages of 18 and 24.
The use of various social media by our grassroots organization has engaged college students in organ donation advocacy on multiple levels. Outreach efforts have fostered peer opinion leaders who in turn share the information they have garnered with online contacts, amounting to tens of thousands in the past year. These platforms and methodologies have helped to improve activism for our cause at the college level among a population who tends to be heavy users of social media and strong supporters of social issues.
To cite this abstract in AMA style:Dokus M, Salter M, Orloff M, Barry C. Utilizing Social Media To Engage College Students in Organ Donation Advocacy [abstract]. Am J Transplant. 2013; 13 (suppl 5). https://atcmeetingabstracts.com/abstract/utilizing-social-media-to-engage-college-students-in-organ-donation-advocacy/. Accessed May 7, 2021.
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