British citizens in a regional community of southeastern Spain with a pre-clinical organ xenotransplantation program. A study of attitude toward xenotransplantation

A Ríos, P Ramírez, L Martínez, N Jarvis, J Sánchez, M M Rodríguez, J Alcaraz, M J Montoya, P Parrilla
Xenotransplantation 2007, 14 (3): 255-64

BACKGROUND: It is important to find out about the social acceptance of xenotransplantation, especially in populations where there are pre-clinical xenotransplantation projects, and therefore the possibility of xenotransplantation to humans. In the native population of southeastern Spain this situation is well-known, but in recent years there has been an important social change because of a considerable migrational flow into Spain, especially from the British Isles.

OBJECTIVE: To analyze the attitude toward xenotransplantation among the population living in southeastern Spain born in the British Isles and to determine the variables that affect this attitude.

METHOD: A random sample was taken of British and Irish citizens resident in southeast Spain and stratified according to a respondent's nationality (n = 1700). The data were obtained between November 2005 and April 2006. Attitude was evaluated using a validated questionnaire that was completed anonymously and self-administered. The control group comprised a random sample (n = 250) of the native population. Student's t-test, the chi-squared test, Fischer's exact test and a logistic regression analysis were used in the statistical analysis.

RESULTS: The questionnaire completion rate was 91% (n = 1546), with 69% of respondents in favor of xenotransplantation, 8% against and 23% unsure, an attitude that is similar to that of the control group (P = 0.1616). These attitudes were based on the assumption that transplanted animal organs had the same outcomes and involved the same risks as human ones. This attitude is related to the following factors: (i) being of male sex (P = 0.0477); (ii) level of education (P = 0.012); (iii) being natives from England or Wales (P = 0.016); (iv) participation in voluntary pro-social activities (P = 0.035); (v) the respondent's religion (P < 0.001); (vi) knowing that one's religion has a favorable attitude toward transplantation (P < 0.001); (vii) having discussed the subject of organ donation and transplantation within the family (P < 0.001); (viii) a partner's favorable attitude toward transplantation (P < 0.001); (ix) previous experience of donation or transplantation (P = 0.024); (x) the belief that in the future one might need a transplant (P = 0.007) and (xi) a favorable attitude toward human donation, both deceased and living (P < 0.001). In the multivariate analysis, the following are significant independent variables: sex [odds ratio (OR) = 2.206], a favorable attitude toward deceased donation (OR = 1.977), and attitude toward living donation (OR = 2.097).

CONCLUSIONS: Attitude toward xenotransplantation among British residents who usually live in the southeast of Spain is similar to that of the native Spanish population, and is determined by many psychosocial factors, mainly related to previous attitude toward the different types of human organ donation and the respondent's sex.

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