In their own words: The reasons why people will (not) sign an organ donor card

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

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

100 Scopus citations


This multisite, qualitative study of 78 family-pair dyads provides rich data on the reasons people cite for (not) wanting to sign an organ donor card in the context of family conversations. In this study, dyads were videotaped as they discussed 8 questions pertaining to their views on organ donation, beginning with the most general opinions and progressing to more detailed questions. Analysis of the transcribed data revealed that the most common reasons for wanting to donate organs were based on religion or a desire to help other people in need. The most common reasons cited for not wanting to donate organs were mistrust (of doctors, hospitals, and the organ allocation system), a belief in a black market for organs in the United States, and deservingness issues (that one's organs would go to someone who brought on his or her own illness, or who could be a "bad person"). One of the most surprising findings is that religion is offered far more often as a rationale for wanting to help sick people through organ donation than it was for not wanting to donate organs. These findings both support and contradict past studies based on quantitative survey data. Implications for the construction of more effective future organ donor campaigns are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)23-33
Number of pages11
JournalHealth Communication
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2008
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Communication


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