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Attitudes about organ transplantation reflected different conceptions of the body

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QUESTION: What are the feelings and ideas of the public about receiving and donating organs for transplantation?






A purposive sample of 69 people (age range 18–69 y, 54% men) who were registered bone marrow donors (n=31), blood donors (n=17), or members of the general public (n=21).


Interviews of 75–135 minutes were unstructured. Analysis of transcripts was based on hermeneutics and focused on identification of typical attitude patterns related to receiving and donating organs.

Main findings

44 respondents had positive attitudes about organ donation, 21 had negative attitudes, and 4 were undecided. 53 respondents had positive attitudes about receipt of organs, 5 had negative attitudes, and 11 were undecided. Respondents seemed to fit into one of 7 typical attitude patterns regarding willingness to receive and donate organs.

The attitude pattern of willingness both to receive and give was characterised by a perspective of the body as an object or machine, where parts could easily be exchanged. The …

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  • Sources of funding: Swedish Council for Social Research and the Vardalstiftelsen.

  • For correspondence: Dr M A Sanner, Department of Public Health and Caring Science, Social Medicine, Uppsala Science Park, S-751 85 Uppsala, Sweden. Fax +46 18 50 64 04.