Ally (Team Margot Wolverhampton) recently shared the results from a trial run by the Behavioural Insights Team, in partnership with DVLA (Driving & Vehicle Licensing Agency) and NHSBT (National Health Service Blood & Transplant) entitled “Applying Behavioural Insights to Organ Donation: preliminary results from a randomised controlled trial”.
Essentially, this trial focuses upon the prompt that seeks to encourage individuals to register as Organ Donors at the end of their visit to the DVLA website. The trial tests out different messages and images as to what produces the greatest success rates. It’s a fascinating read and also a reminder of how important it is to consider what makes people ‘do’ or ‘not do’ any particular action.
The results of the trial show that the most successful “trigger” / message (in terms of people registering as Organ Donors) is the one that draws on reciprocity by asking:
“If you needed an organ transplant would you have one ? If so please help others.”
This reciprocal message echoes what Vicki said a year ago at the end of our interview with Australian breakfast TV programme ‘Wake Up’:
“This could happen to anybody. If you’d be prepared to take a bone marrow transplant, or any other type of organ donation or blood donation, then I feel that people should be prepared to give also… I’d like people to think about that.”
I always say that Vicki is a better person than me. *Proud husband*
The report also states that 19,532,806 people have registered to join the NHS Organ Donor Register, which is broadly equivalent to 30% of the UK population. By comparison with the 1.5% of the UK population (1 million people) who are on the UK stem cell / bone marrow register, this is a massive number.
I accept that organ donors are willing to become donors after their death, but surely this is nevertheless really encouraging and it makes me think: Why wouldn’t the majority of these people also register as potential stem cell donors ?
My suspicion is that it’s simply down to lack of awareness. This gives us food for thought in terms of future targets to aim for, once our initial target of 4% of the UK population figure (2.5 million people) is achieved. There are over 25m potential stem cell donors on the worldwide stem cell registers combined; it would be interesting to know what the internationally comparable organ donor figures are for other countries as well.
All this is potentially very positive for the prospects of growing the size (and diversity) of the UK stem cell register and when my sister Nadia and I met with the NHSBT in early January, we specifically asked about the organ donation prompt which accompanies a driving licence application. We suggested to the NHSBT that this prompt need not be replaced (too radical), but rather that it might be tweaked to embrace blood and stem cell registration as well as organ donation. The idea was received positively, so we hope to hear that our suggestion might be adopted in due course.
It could make a considerable difference to the number of potential stem cell donors on the UK register.