Are organ donation communication decisions reasoned or reactive? A test of the utility of an augmented theory of planned behaviour with the prototype/willingness model

Melissa K Hyde, Katherine M White
British Journal of Health Psychology 2010, 15 (Pt 2): 435-52

OBJECTIVES: To explore whether people's organ donation consent decisions occur via a reasoned and/or social reaction pathway.

DESIGN: We examined prospectively students' and community members' decisions to register consent on a donor register and discuss organ donation wishes with family.

METHOD: Participants completed items assessing theory of planned behaviour (TPB; attitude, subjective norm, perceived behavioural control (PBC)), prototype/willingness model (PWM; donor prototype favourability/similarity, past behaviour), and proposed additional influences (moral norm, self-identity, recipient prototypes) for registering (N=339) and discussing (N=315) intentions/willingness. Participants self-reported their registering (N=177) and discussing (N=166) behaviour 1 month later. The utility of the (1) TPB, (2) PWM, (3) augmented TPB with PWM, and (4) augmented TPB with PWM and extensions was tested using structural equation modelling for registering and discussing intentions/willingness, and logistic regression for behaviour.

RESULTS: While the TPB proved a more parsimonious model, fit indices suggested that the other proposed models offered viable options, explaining greater variance in communication intentions/willingness. The TPB, augmented TPB with PWM, and extended augmented TPB with PWM best explained registering and discussing decisions. The proposed and revised PWM also proved an adequate fit for discussing decisions. Respondents with stronger intentions (and PBC for registering) had a higher likelihood of registering and discussing.

CONCLUSIONS: People's decisions to communicate donation wishes may be better explained via a reasoned pathway (especially for registering); however, discussing involves more reactive elements. The role of moral norm, self-identity, and prototypes as influences predicting communication decisions were highlighted also.

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