Background and purpose Changes to deceased organ donation policy in the USA, including opt-out and priority systems, have been proposed to increase registration and donation rates. To study attitudes towards such policies, we surveyed healthcare students to assess support for opt-out and priority systems and reasons for support or opposition.
Methods We investigated associations with supporting opt-out, including organ donation knowledge, altruism, trust in the healthcare system, prioritising autonomy and participants’ evaluation of the moral severity of incorrectly assuming consent in opt-in systems (‘opt-in error’) or opt-out systems (‘opt-out error’), by conducting an online survey among healthcare students at a large academic institution.
Results Of 523 respondents, 86% supported opt-out, including 53% who strongly supported the policy. The most popular reason for supporting opt-out was the potential for increased donation rates, followed by convenience for those not registered but willing to donate. The most popular reason for opposing opt-out was the belief that presuming consent is morally wrong. Those strongly supporting opt-out viewed the opt-in error as more morally unacceptable, and had higher knowledge and altruism scores. Those opposing opt-out viewed the opt-out error as more unacceptable, and had higher autonomy scores. 48% of respondents supported priority within opt-in systems; 31% supported priority in opt-out.
Conclusions There is strong support for opt-out organ donation among healthcare students, influenced by both practical and moral considerations.
- donation/procurement of organs/tissues
- public policy
Data availability statement
Data are available upon request.
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Contributors LQ, MTL, KLK, SAH, DJC and SM worked collaboratively to conceive the project, design the survey, recruit participants, analyse the data and write the manuscript.
Funding This work was supported by the Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons Scholarly Projects Fund; the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (grant KL2 TR001874); and the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) (grants R01-MD014161 and U01-DK116066).
Competing interests None declared.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.
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