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Attitudes toward organ donation and transplantation: a model for understanding reactions to medical procedures after death
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Medicine and Pharmacy, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Public Health and Caring Sciences, Health Services Research. (Health Services Research)
1994 (English)In: Social Science and Medicine, ISSN 0277-9536, E-ISSN 1873-5347, Vol. 38, no 8, 1141-1152 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The main purpose of this study was to reach a deeper understanding of factors influencing the attitudes toward organ donation and other procedures with the dead body.

From a survey of 400 inhabitants of Uppsala, a city in the middle of Sweden, concerning attitudes toward transplantation issues, 38 individuals with different attitudes toward donation of their own organs were selected for follow-up interviews. From the interviews, more than 600 statements concerning motives and reactions to medical procedures with the dead body were listed. These statements were summarized in 20 motive categories, in which 17 the nature of the motives were negative to organ donation and three promoting such a procedure. The categories were then analyzed and interpreted within a frame of reference of psychodynamic defense theory. In several cases it was possible to relate them to common death anxiety defenses. Six different motive complexes were extracted. These are called (1) illusion of lingering life; (2) protection of the value of the individual; (3) distrust, anxiety and alienation; (4) respecting the limits set by Nature or God; (5) altruism; and (6) rationality.

Individuals not willing to donate their own organs were judged as either (a) reacting out of strenthened death anxiety defenses, or (b) as having a special outlook on life, where the idea of what is ‘natural’ was emphasized. The adverse reactions of the positive attitude group were seen as initial reactions perceived as derivations of common death anxiety defenses and weakened when confronted with altruistic and fact-stressing arguments.

In the ‘undecided group’ of 14 persons, 11 arrived at a definite opinion. Seven decided for organ donation when their mistaken beliefs were corrected or when they took time to work through their initial uneasiness, while 4 persons actually were clearly negative. Three still remained uncertain.

The stability of these attitudes seems to be high, often being experienced as a part of one's philiosophy of life.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
1994. Vol. 38, no 8, 1141-1152 p.
Keyword [en]
organ donation, transplantation, autopsy, dissection, attitude, death anxiety, anxiety defense, thanatology
National Category
Medical and Health Sciences
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-53610DOI: 10.1016/0277-9536(94)90229-1ISI: A1994NC18000012OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-53610DiVA: diva2:81520
Available from: 2008-10-17 Created: 2008-10-17 Last updated: 2010-07-27Bibliographically approved

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