Factors that influence the decision to be an organ donor: A systematic review of the qualitative literature

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Journal Article
Nephrology Dialysis Transplantation, 2012, 27 (6), pp. 2526 - 2533
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Background. Transplantation is the treatment of choice for organ failure, but a worldwide shortage of suitable organs exists. We conducted a systematic review of qualitative studies that explored community attitudes towards living and deceased solid organ donation to inform strategies to improve organ donation rates. Methods. Medline, Embase, PsycINFO and EconLIT were searched. Qualitative studies that explored community attitudes towards living and deceased solid organ donation were included. A thematic synthesis of the results and conclusions reported by primary authors was performed. Results. Eighteen studies involving 1019 participants were identified. Eight themes emerged. The decision to be an organ donor was influenced by (i) relational ties; (ii) religious beliefs; (iii) cultural influences; (iv) family influences; (v) body integrity; (vi) previous interactions with the health care system-medical mistrust, validity of brain death and fear of early organ retrieval; (vii) the individual's knowledge about the organ donation process and (viii) major reservations about the process of donation, even in those who support organ donation. Conclusions. This review of qualitative studies highlights that seemingly intractable factors, such as religion and culture, are often tied in with more complex issues such as a distrust of the medical system, misunderstandings about religious stances and ignorance about the donation process. Intervention that could be considered includes culturally appropriate strategies to engage minority groups, especially through religious or cultural leaders, and more comprehensively available information about the donation process and its positive outcomes. © 2011 The Author.
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