Family discussions about organ donation: How the media influences opinions about donation decisions

Susan E. Morgan, Tyler R. Harrison, Shawn D. Long, Walid A. Afifi, Michael S. Stephenson, Tom Reichert

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

85 Scopus citations


In this study, 78 family pair dyads (spouses, parent-child pairs, or siblings) were brought into an interaction laboratory set up like a living room. After being briefed on the study, family members discussed a series of eight questions about their thoughts and opinions about organ donation. Thematic analysis of the thousands of pages of transcripts revealed that family members believe that they receive important information about organ donation through the media. Unfortunately, the most influential information came from sensationalistic, negative media portrayals. The myths that seem to be the most actively referenced by the media include premature declaration of death, the transference of personality traits from donor to recipient, a US black market for organs, corruption in the medical community, and corruption in the organ allocation system (which allows celebrities to get transplants first). Although these are not the only myths that the generally public holds to be true, the media is a powerful source of support for these particular myths. Therefore, such myths must be countered effectively if greater consent for organ donation is to be attained.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)674-682
Number of pages9
JournalClinical Transplantation
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 1 2005
Externally publishedYes


  • Family
  • Media
  • Organ donation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Transplantation


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