INTRODUCTION: This study assessed the information needs, preferred educational messages and channels of delivery, as well as opinions on strategies to promote organ donation. It aimed to provide insight into a culturally sensitive public education campaign to encourage organ donation in diverse ethnic communities in Asia, namely the Malays, Chinese and Indians.
METHODS: A total of 17 focus group discussions with 105 participants were conducted between September and December 2008. The participants were members of the general public aged 18 to 60 years, who were recruited through convenient sampling in the Klang Valley area of Malaysia.
RESULTS: Across ethnic groups, there was a general concern about the mistreatment of the deceased's body in the organ procurement process. The Chinese and Indian participants wanted assurance that the body would be treated with respect and care. The Muslims wanted assurance that the handling of a Muslim's body would follow the rules and regulations of the Islamic faith. The most important information requested by the Muslim participants was whether cadaveric donation is permissible in Islam. A lack of national public education and promotion of organ donation was noted. All the three ethnic groups, especially the Malays, required community and religious leaders for support, encouragement and involvement, as sociocultural influences play a significant role in the willingness to donate organs.
CONCLUSION: The pronounced ethnic differences in information needs suggest that culturally sensitive public educational messages are required. Organ donation and transplantation organisations should work closely with community and religious organisations to address the sociocultural barriers identified.