Promoting health communication about organ donation remains a crucial objective within Native American communities. The goals of the current study were to communicate with young adult Native Americans about the Organ Donation Willingness Model (ODWM; Horton & Horton, 1991) to gain their responses to materials from campaigns about donation strategies tailored to Native American communities. Six focus groups were conducted with a total of 31 participants. Data were analyzed using thematic analysis (Braun & Clarke, 2019, 2022) and following Smith’s guidelines (2008), which include showing deep respect for the group participants, conducting the study in a face-to-face setting, and being active listeners of the group and their cultural norms, exercising special attention towards those norms. The analysis generated four themes: (1) knowledge and transplantation support emerging from family and community factors; (2) conflicting cultural beliefs; (3) geographic opportunities for improved health care, and finally, (4) the presence of Native Americans as tokenized people in campaign messages. Future collaboration with rural communities and campaign messages could focus on approaches that emphasize communal voice, social representations theory, and clear message strategies.


Native Americans, health communication, thematic analysis, organ donation, health campaigns

Author Bio(s)

Dr. Rebecca K. Britt is the Associate Dean for Research, Scholarship, and Creative Activity and a professor at the University of Alabama in the College of Communication & Information Sciences. Her research centers on health communication, collaboration with rural and underserviced communities, health care access, multimodal activities and computational social science. Please direct correspondence to rkbritt@ua.edu.

Amy A. Ritchart is a PhD candidate and instructor at the University of Alabama in the College of Communication & Information Sciences and a freelance journalist. Her research centers on health communication and stigma, health and political communication, media coverage of health issues, health messaging, social and emerging media, and community-engaged research. She employs qualitative, quantitative, and computational methods in her social science research.


The author thanks the participants for their time to engage in dialogue and discourse surrounding a sensitive health issue.

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