One in 10 could opt out of presumed organ donation system - study

29 October 2018, 12:33

An NHS donor card

One in 10 people could opt out of a system aiming to increase organ donation by presuming consent, according to a new study.

Legislation was tabled at Holyrood earlier this year to shift Scotland to an "opt-out" system for organ donation.

The proposed system would mean assuming an adult is in favour of donation unless they have stated otherwise.

However the study highlighted a number of people have strong emotional barriers towards organ donation.

An opt-out system has been in place in Wales since 2015 and there are plans to introduce a similar scheme in England by 2020.

Research by the University of Stirling indicated campaigns for promoting organ donation focusing on facts could be less effective than those targeting feelings and emotions around the topic.

Jordan Miller co-authored the study with Professor Ronan O'Carroll and Dr Sinead Currie, health psychologists from the Faculty of Natural Sciences.

She said: "We found that participants who plan to opt-out of the proposed system reported heightened emotional barriers towards organ donation.

"Concerns that organ donation would violate the physical integrity of the body was a particularly important barrier in this group."

"Our study considered a myth-busting strategy currently employed by the NHS - and used by other healthcare providers worldwide - where myths and misconceptions about organ donation are corrected with factual information.

"We found that this approach had no effect on increasing donor intentions in those planning to opt-out."

Almost half of the Scottish population (45%) has signed up for the organ donor card scheme, requiring people to opt in to the system in order to donate.

Stirling University researchers surveyed 1,202 people in the UK on their intentions under the proposed system - and found nearly 10% percent plan to opt out, or are unsure of their decision.

They suggested this number may be even higher as 70% of participants were already organ donors.

Ms Miller added: "Before the introduction of opt-out consent laws, evaluation of alternative strategies to increase donor intentions are required."