Current statistics on organ donation point to an ever-increasing demand yet inadequate supply of available donors. And while the vast majority of Americans (90%) support organ donation, only 60% are registered. Our study demonstrates how intercepting customers with behaviorally informed promotional materials at the right time (e.g., “If you needed a transplant would you have one?”), along with streamlined customer service (e.g., additional time and a simplified form) can help overcome the intention-action gap and significantly increase new organ donor registrations.
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Robitaille, Nicole, Nina Mazar, Claire I. Tsai, Avery M. Haviv, and Elizabeth Hardy (2021), “Increasing Organ Donor Registrations with Behavioral Interventions: A Field Experiment,” Journal of Marketing.
Although prior research has advanced our understanding of the drivers of organ donation attitudes and intentions, little is known about how to increase actual registrations within explicit consent systems. Some empirical evidence suggests that costly, labor intensive educational programs and mass media campaigns might increase registrations. However, they are neither scalable nor economical solutions. To address these limitations, the authors conducted a field experiment (N = 3,330) in Ontario, Canada testing the effectiveness of behaviorally informed promotion interventions as well as process improvements. They find intercepting customers with materials targeting information and altruistic motives at the right time, along with streamlining customer service, significantly increased registrations. Specifically, the best performing intervention, prompting perspective-taking through reciprocal altruism (“If you needed a transplant would you have one?”), significantly increased new registration rates from 4.1% in the control condition to 7.4%. The authors followed up with seven posttests (Total N = 3,376) to find support for their theoretical predictions and to explore the mechanisms through which the interventions may have operated. This paper provides evidence for low-cost, scalable marketing solutions that increase organ donor registrations in a prompted choice context and has important implications for public policy and enhancing societal welfare
Special thanks to Holly Howe (Ph.D. candidate at Duke University) and Demi Oba (Ph.D. candidate at Duke University), for their support in working with authors on submissions to this program.
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