Journal of Community & Applied Social Psychology

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Volume 19 Issue 2 (March/April 2009), Pages 83-164

Student and community perceptions about organ donors, non‐donors and transplant recipients (pages 125-141)


Despite efforts to encourage organ donation, low organ donation rates in Australia and other Western nations do not meet the demand for transplantable organs. One influence on organ donation decision‐making yet to be fully explored is that of prototype perceptions about organ donors, non‐donors and transplant recipients. We conducted focus groups and interviews with 54 student and community participants to explore these perceptions of donors and non‐donors in a living and posthumous context, as well as transplant recipients. Using content and thematic analysis, transcripts were analysed for consistently emerging themes. Donors were generally perceived positively as altruistic and giving and as ordinary people; however, some participants questioned the motives of living anonymous donors. Non‐donors were commonly viewed negatively as self‐absorbed and unaware, with living‐related non‐donors particularly perceived as cold‐hearted and weak. Transplant recipients were generally viewed sympathetically (unfortunate and unwell); however, many participants also expressed negative views about transplant recipients as responsible for their predicament, depending upon the type of organ transplant needed. To encourage people's willingness to donate their organs, it is crucial to understand the extent to which these perceptions influence organ donation decisions. Copyright © 2008 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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