Media Coverage May Influence Willingness to Donate Organs

MEDPAGE TODAY | Alexandra Backert

News stories more often identify donors than recipients


Most news coverage regarding organ transplants focuses on donors rather than recipients and this may negatively affect the public's willingness to serve as organ donors, reported researchers.

Among a cohort of 650 undergraduate students, those who read stories about the person whose life was saved by the donation indicated more willingness to donate their own organs, the organs of a deceased relative, or to support a transition to an "opt-out" policy, wrote Inbal Harel, of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Israel, and colleagues online in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Conversely, information identifying a deceased donor tended to make the students think about death, resulting in fewer willing to donate organs or support measures in favor of organ donation, the researchers wrote.

"People tend to rely on immediate examples that come to mind when evaluating a specific topic so such stories are more 'front of mind' than stories that identify organ recipients when we think about the issue of organ donations," commented Harel. Continue reading
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