JOURNAL ARTICLE

Influence of empathy, beliefs, attitudes, and demographic variables on willingness to donate organs

E Wilczek-Rużyczka, I Milaniak, P Przybyłowski, K Wierzbicki, J Sadowski
Transplantation Proceedings 2014, 46 (8): 2505-8
25380854

BACKGROUND: As organ transplantation has become a more routine medical procedure, there has been a growing interest in studying people's attitudes and knowledge concerning organ donation. Trait empathy and self-interest influence different pro-social behaviors to a great extent; still, their role in the promotion of organ donation registration and willingness to donate organs remains unclear. However, people with higher levels of empathy report more altruistic beliefs. We assessed the influence of empathy, beliefs, and demographic variables on willingness to donate organs.

METHODS: We included 191 subjects (135 female, 56 male) aged 16-61 years (mean, 26.86 ± 12.88), who participated in educational meetings concerning organ donation. The group was composed of students, teachers, and nurses. Survey tools included the Individual Questionnaire: Study of Attitudes Towards Transplantation, consisting of 26 closed-ended questions (with the consent of the Krakow Statistical Office) and the Empathy Scale by Mehrabian and Epstein.

RESULTS: Of the respondents, 97.4% accept transplantation from living donors, 95.8% accept deceased donations, and 78.5% agree with posthumous life-saving organ donation. The majority of respondents (73%) achieved an average level of empathy, and 20.4% of respondents exhibited considerably higher empathy levels. There was a significant difference between the respondents' sex and their agreement to make a life-saving organ donation. Differences were found among the groups, the attitudes and willingness to donate organs, and between the level of empathy and agreement/consent for organ donation.

CONCLUSIONS: Our findings show that the group in general has favorable beliefs about transplantation and declares a willingness to make a posthumous organ donation. These beliefs vary based on demographic variables. Education about organ and tissue donation a has a positive impact on donation and transplantation rates.

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