Assessing the Factors that Influence the Donation of a Deceased Family Member’s Organs in an Opt-Out System for Organ Donation

Shepherd, Lee, O’Carroll, Ronan E. and Ferguson, Eamonn (2023) Assessing the Factors that Influence the Donation of a Deceased Family Member’s Organs in an Opt-Out System for Organ Donation. Social Science & Medicine, 317. p. 115545. ISSN 0277-9536

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Family, and sometimes longstanding friends, have considerable influence over organ donation, through agreeing or disagreeing to the donation of a deceased individual's organs. To date, most research has been undertaken within opt-in systems.

This study advances on previous research by assessing next-of-kin approval under opt-out legislation. We tested whether next-of-kin approval varies when the deceased is a registered donor (opted-in), registered non-donor (opted-out) or has not registered a decision under an opt-out policy (deemed consent). We also tested if the deceased's wishes influenced next-of-kin approval through relatives anticipating regret for not donating and feelings of uncertainty. Finally, we assessed whether next-of-kin's own beliefs about organ donation influenced whether they followed the deceased's wishes.

Participants (N = 848) living in a country with opt-out legislation (Wales, UK) were asked to imagine a relative had died under an opt-out system and decided if their relatives' organs should be donated. Participants were randomly allocated to imagine the deceased had either (i) opted-in, (ii) opted-out or (iii) not registered a decision (deemed consent). The outcome variable was next-of-kin approval, with uncertainty and anticipated regret as potential mediators and next-of-kin's beliefs about organ donation as moderators.

Next-of-kin approval was lower when the deceased had opted-out than under deemed consent. This was due to next-of-kin anticipating more regret for not donating under deemed consent than opt-out. Further analyses revealed the deceased's wishes influence next-of-kin approval, via anticipated regret, when next-of-kin did not hold negative beliefs about organ donation.

The deceased's wishes were less likely to be followed when next-of-kin had negative beliefs towards donation. Developing large-scale campaigns to improve these beliefs in the general public should make people more likely to follow the deceased's wishes. As a result, these campaigns should improve the availability of donor organs.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: Funding information: This research was funded by a British Academy/Leverhulme Small Research Grant (SRG1819\191190). This funding source did not influence the study design, data collection and analysis, interpretation or writing of this article.
Uncontrolled Keywords: Next-of-kin, organ donation, transplantation, affective attitudes, perceived benefits, anticipated regret, uncertainty, Wales (UK)
Subjects: A300 Clinical Medicine
B100 Anatomy, Physiology and Pathology
C800 Psychology
Department: Faculties > Health and Life Sciences > Psychology
Depositing User: Rachel Branson
Date Deposited: 14 Nov 2022 15:55
Last Modified: 17 Nov 2023 03:30

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