Attitudes toward financial incentives, donor authorization, and presumed consent among next-of-kin who consented vs. refused organ donation

James R Rodrigue, Danielle L Cornell, Richard J Howard
Transplantation 2006 May 15, 81 (9): 1249-56

BACKGROUND: Financial incentives, donor authorization, and presumed consent are strategies designed to increase organ donation rates. Surveys designed to assess attitudes toward these initiatives have been conducted with the general public, transplant patients, and transplant professionals.

METHODS: To assess attitudes toward financial incentives, donor authorization, and presumed consent and to identify multivariate predictors of such attitudes, we conducted telephone interviews with 561 family members who had recently been asked for consent to donate the organs of a deceased family member (348 donors, 213 nondonors).

RESULTS: Financial incentives would have made a difference in the donation decision for 54% of nondonors (vs. 46% of donors, P=0.02), and a higher percentage of nondonors would themselves become donors if financial incentives were available (P=0.03). Donors had significantly more favorable attitudes toward donor authorization (P<0.0001) and presumed consent (P<0.0001) policies. Overall, 54% of participants thought that family permission for donation was unnecessary when the deceased documented their donation intention, and 24% favored a presumed consent law with an opting out provision.

CONCLUSIONS: Of the three initiatives, donor authorization is likely supported by more donor and nondonor families than either financial incentives or presumed consent. Public education efforts should aim to better inform the public regarding existing and proposed donor authorization legislation and its benefits for registered organ donors and their families.

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