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"I am in favour of organ donation, but I feel you should opt-in"—qualitative analysis of the #options 2020 survey free-text responses from NHS staff toward opt-out organ donation legislation in England

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Dorothy Coe, Professor Caroline Wroe



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


© The Author(s) 2024. Background: In May 2020, England moved to an opt-out organ donation system, meaning adults are presumed to be an organ donor unless within an excluded group or have opted-out. This change aims to improve organ donation rates following brain or circulatory death. Healthcare staff in the UK are supportive of organ donation, however, both healthcare staff and the public have raised concerns and ethical issues regarding the change. The #options survey was completed by NHS organisations with the aim of understanding awareness and support of the change. This paper analyses the free-text responses from the survey. Methods: The #options survey was registered as a National Institute of Health Research (NIHR) portfolio trial [IRAS 275992] 14 February 2020, and was completed between July and December 2020 across NHS organisations in the North-East and North Cumbria, and North Thames. The survey contained 16 questions of which three were free-text, covering reasons against, additional information required and family discussions. The responses to these questions were thematically analysed. Results: The #options survey received 5789 responses from NHS staff with 1404 individuals leaving 1657 free-text responses for analysis. The family discussion question elicited the largest number of responses (66%), followed by those against the legislation (19%), and those requiring more information (15%). Analysis revealed six main themes with 22 sub-themes. Conclusions: The overall #options survey indicated NHS staff are supportive of the legislative change. Analysis of the free-text responses indicates that the views of the NHS staff who are against the change reflect the reasons, misconceptions, and misunderstandings of the public. Additional concerns included the rationale for the change, informed decision making, easy access to information and information regarding organ donation processes. Educational materials and interventions need to be developed for NHS staff to address the concepts of autonomy and consent, organ donation processes, and promote family conversations. Wider public awareness campaigns should continue to promote the positives and refute the negatives thus reducing misconceptions and misunderstandings. Trial registration: National Institute of Health Research (NIHR) [IRAS 275992].

Publication metadata

Author(s): Clark NL, Coe D, Newell N, Jones MNA, Robb M, Reaich D, Wroe C

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: BMC Medical Ethics

Year: 2024

Volume: 25

Issue: 1

Online publication date: 20/04/2024

Acceptance date: 17/04/2024

Date deposited: 29/04/2024

ISSN (electronic): 1472-6939

Publisher: BioMed Central Ltd


DOI: 10.1186/s12910-024-01048-6


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Funder referenceFunder name
Northern Counties Kidney Research Fund