BACKGROUND. Less than 20% of people who meet the criteria for organ donors are estimated to donate organs. OBJECTIVE. To examine the knowledge and attitudes of rural critical care nurses regarding organ donation. METHODS. Forty-six critical care nurses from a southwestern medical center provided data for this study. Self-reported knowledge and attitudes were measured using the Organ Donor Attitude Questionnaire and compared with respondents' demographic characteristics. RESULTS. Knowledge scores were found to be average (74% correct). Attitude scores reflected a strongly positive attitude toward organ donation. Increased knowledge of organ donation was not found to be related to a positive attitude. However, both attitude and knowledge were found to be positively correlated with previous experience in caring for either organ donors or recipients. Results were compared with data collected in an urban setting and found to be similar. CONCLUSIONS. Results of this study indicate that exposure to patients affected by organ procurement increased knowledge and improved attitudes of the nurses who provided care. Increased knowledge and positive attitude are important when providing support to families and caring for potential donors. These factors could increase the supply of donors for transplants, which is a goal of the organ procurement process.

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