Attitudes, knowledge, and actions with regard to organ donation among Hong Kong medical students

Christina K Y Chung, Carol W K Ng, Jacky Y C Li, Kevin C Y Sum, Adams H Y Man, Sunny P C Chan, Joyce Y M Cheung, Kris P T Yu, Bruce Y H Tang, Pamela P W Lee
Hong Kong Medical Journal 2008, 14 (4): 278-85

OBJECTIVE: To study attitudes, knowledge, and actions of local medical students with regard to organ donation and self-perceived confidence and competence in approaching potential organ donors.

DESIGN: Cross-sectional questionnaire survey.

SETTING: Faculty of Medicine, The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong.

PARTICIPANTS: Medical students, years 1-5.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Knowledge on various aspects of organ donation was assessed, and students' self-evaluated competence and confidence about counselling for organ donation was evaluated. Factors influencing attitudes and actions were determined.

RESULTS: The response rate was 94% (655/694). A majority (85%) had a 'positive' attitude, but only a small proportion (23%) had signed the organ donation card. Inconvenience and lack of knowledge about organ donor registration, and concerns about premature termination of medical treatment accounted for such discrepancies. Socio-cultural factors such as the traditional Chinese belief in preservation of an intact body after death, unease discussing death-related issues, and family objections to organ donation were significantly associated with a 'negative' attitude. Knowledge and action increased with medical education yet only a small proportion of medical students felt competent and confident in counselling patients on organ donation.

CONCLUSIONS: The medical curriculum should increase medical students' awareness of the organ shortage problem. The donor registration system should be made more convenient and public education is recommended to correct misconceptions.

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