Presumed post-mortem donors: the degree of information among university students

BMC Medical Ethics 22 (1):1-16 (2021)
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Abstract

BackgroundOrgan transplantation represents the most effective and acceptable therapy for end-stage organ failure. However, its frequent practice often leads to a shortage of organs worldwide. To solve this dilemma, some countries, such as Portugal, have switched from an opt-in to an opt-out system, which has raised concerns about respect for individual autonomy. We aimed to evaluate whether young university students are aware of this opt-out system so that they can make informed, autonomous and conscious decisions, as well as to identify the factors that determine a positive attitude toward post-mortem organ donation.MethodsAn observational, cross-sectional study was developed and a questionnaire was administered to first-year students from six faculties of the University of Porto.ResultsOf the 841 participants, 60% were unaware that Portugal had adopted an opt-out system. Among the informed individuals, their main sources of information included social media, internet, and family. Furthermore, only 48% of all participants agreed with the current opt-out system. Female sex (p = 0.049; OR 1.393), knowledge of the law (p < 0.001; OR 4.749) and family being the primary source of information (p < 0.001; OR 2.855) were independent factors associated with a positive attitude toward post-mortem organ donation law.ConclusionsThere is a significant lack of knowledge among young university students regarding the presumed post-mortem organ donation law and how it works. Female sex, having family as a primary source of information and being aware of the presumed post-mortem organ donation law are the strongest independent factors that determine a positive attitude toward the opt-out system.

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