Vol. 2 No. 3 (2023): infermieristica journal: your heart, our beat

The “Psychology” of organ donation: two exploratory studies considering Italian “Health professionals” and “Citizens”

Franca Paola Severino
Università degli Studi di Firenze
Andrea Guazzini
Department of Education, LIteratures, Intercultural studies, Languages, and Psychology, University of Florence
Laura Rasero
Department of Health Sciences University of Florence
Stefano Bambi
Department of Health Sciences University of Florence
Guya Piemonte
AUSL Toscana centro - PO S. maria Annunziata
Samuele Baldassini Rodriguez
Emergency and Trauma Intensive Care Unite, Careggi University Hospital

Published 2023-10-31


  • COVID-19,
  • Organ Donation,
  • Psychosocial Factors,
  • Ethnicity,
  • Psychology


Background: Transplantation extends and improves lives, but the shortage of organs is one of the main factors limiting the number of transplants in Italy.
Objectives: The aim of this research was to understand the psychological and socio demographic determinants that can be related to the manifestation of the willingness to donate in a sample of citizens and professionals.
Methods: In the study conducted on two samples (health professionals and citizens), two self-administered questionnaires were created ad hoc and administered to the participants recruited by means of a snowballing not-randoming procedure.
Results: 386 citizens and 122 health professionals completed the questionnaire. Results frequently supported the literature. Specifically, with reference to the sample of citizens, (a) women are more likely to express a willingness to donate than men; furthermore, (b) having a realistic knowledge of the topic has a relationship with this manifestation. In both samples, (c) having previously discussed the topic of donation is relevant to expressing willingness to donate. With reference to the sample of professionals only, (d) having received training on organ donation has a relationship with practitioners' willingness to donate.
Conclusion: There are several factors that influence the manifestation of willingness to donate in both samples. Efforts should be stepped up to provide comprehensive and appropriate education, knowledge and training on the subject to increase willingness to donate.


  1. Terraneo M, Caserini A. Information matters: attitude towards organ donation in a general university population web-survey in Italy. Int J Sociol Soc Policy. 2022. doi:10.1108/ijssp-01-2022-0020
  2. Gruessner R. Organ donation. The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica. March 12, 2010; 22 March 2023. Accessed August 13 2021. https://www.britannica.com/topic/organ-donation
  3. Edwards T. M, Essman C, Thornton J. Assessing racial and ethnic differences in medical student knowledge, attitudes and behaviors regarding organ donation. J Natl Med Assoc. 2007; 99(2): 131.
  4. Ghods AJ. Ethical issues and living unrelated donor kidney transplantation. Iran J Kidney Dis. 2009; 3(4).
  5. Miller C, Breakwell R. What factors influence a family’s decision to agree to organ donation? A critical literature review. Lond J Prim Care. 2018;10(4):103-107. doi:10.1080/17571472.2018.1459226
  6. Mohs A, Hübner G. Organ donation: the role of gender in the attitude-behavior relationship. J Appl Soc Psychol. 2013;43:E64—E70. doi:10.1111/jasp.12042
  7. Wu AM, Tang CS, Yogo M. Death anxiety, altruism, self-efficacy, and organ donation intention among Japanese college students: A moderated mediation analysis. Aust J Psychol. 2012;65(2):115-123. doi:10.1111/ajpy.12003
  8. Vijayalakshmi P, Sunitha TS, Gandhi S, Thimmaiah R, Math SB. Knowledge, attitude and behaviour of the general population towards organ donation: An Indian perspective. Natl Med J India. 2016;29(5):257-261.
  9. Rodrigue JR, Cornell DL, Howard RJ. Organ donation decision: comparison of donor and nondonor families. Am J Transplant. 2006;6(1):190-198. doi:10.1111/j.1600-6143.2005.01130.x
  10. Murray L, Miller A, Dayoub C, Wakefield C, Homewood J. Communication and consent: discussion and organ donation decisions for self and family. Transplant Proc. 2013;45(1):10-12. doi:10.1016/j.transproceed.2012.10.021
  11. D'Alessandro AM, Peltier JW, Dahl AJ. The impact of social, cognitive and attitudinal dimensions on college students' support for organ donation. Am J Transplant. 2012;12(1):152-161. doi:10.1111/j.1600-6143.2011.03783.x
  12. Dunleavy VO. A culturally competent approach to exploring barriers in organ donation consent among Haitian immigrants: formative focus group findings and implications. J Immigr Minor Health. 2013;15(6):1113-1118. doi:10.1007/s10903-012-9719-y
  13. Alden DL, Cheung AH. Organ donation and culture: a comparison of Asian American and European American beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors. J Appl Soc Psychol. 2000;30(2):293-314. doi:10.1111/j.1559-1816.2000.tb02317.x
  14. Guéguen N, Bougeard-Delfosse C, Jacob C. The Positive Effect of the Mere Presence of a Religious Symbol on Compliance With an Organ Donation Request. Soc Mark Q. 2015;21(2):92-99. doi:10.1177/1524500415582070
  15. Range LM, Brazda GF. How Organ Donors are Different from Non-donors: Responsibility, Barriers, and Religious Involvement. J Relig Health. 2015;54(6):2286-2291. doi:10.1007/s10943-014-9982-4
  16. Fernández-Alonso V, Palacios-Ceña D, Silva-Martín C, García-Pozo A. Facilitators and Barriers in the Organ Donation Process: A Qualitative Study among Nurse Transplant Coordinators. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2020;17(21):7996. Published 2020 Oct 30. doi:10.3390/ijerph17217996
  17. Oluyombo R, Fawale MB, Ojewola RW, et al. Knowledge Regarding Organ Donation and Willingness to Donate among Health Workers in South-West Nigeria. Int J Organ Transplant Med. 2016;7(1):19-26.
  18. Regehr C, Kjerulf M, Popova SR, Baker AJ. Trauma and tribulation: the experiences and attitudes of operating room nurses working with organ donors. J Clin Nurs. 2004;13(4):430-437. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2702.2004.00905.x
  19. Gao W, Plummer V, McKenna L. Lived experiences of international operating room nurses in organ procurement surgery: A phenomenological study. Nurs Health Sci. 2020;22(1):5-13. doi:10.1111/nhs.12651
  20. Pianigiani L, Padovan A., Pacini A. Il processo di donazione organi e tessuti. Trapianti. 2009;13:121-134.
  21. Weiner BJ. A theory of organizational readiness for change. Implement Sci. 2009;4:67. Published 2009 Oct 19. doi:10.1186/1748-5908-4-67
  22. Kentish-Barnes N, Chevret S, Cheisson G, et al. Grief Symptoms in Relatives Who Experienced Organ Donation Requests in the ICU. Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 2018;198(6):751-758. doi:10.1164/rccm.201709-1899OC
  23. Lewin K. Frontiers in group dynamics: II. Channels of group life; social planning and action research. Hum Relat. 1947; 1(2): 143-153.
  24. Saleem T, Ishaque S, Habib N, et al. Knowledge, attitudes and practices survey on organ donation among a selected adult population of Pakistan. BMC Med Ethics. 2009;10:5. Published 2009 Jun 17. doi:10.1186/1472-6939-10-5
  25. Dixon DJ, Abbey SE. Religious altruism and organ donation. Psychosomatics. 2000;41(5):407-411. doi:10.1176/appi.psy.41.5.407
  26. Messina E. Beyond the Officially Sacred, Donor and Believer: Religion and Organ Transplantation. Transplant Proc. 2015;47(7):2092-2096. doi:10.1016/j.transproceed.2015.06.031
  27. Merchant SJ, Yoshida EM, Lee TK, Richardson P, Karlsbjerg KM, Cheung E. Exploring the psychological effects of deceased organ donation on the families of the organ donors. Clin Transplant. 2008;22(3):341-347. doi:10.1111/j.1399-0012.2008.00790.x
  28. Bellali T, Papadatou D. Parental grief following the brain death of a child: does consent or refusal to organ donation affect their grief?. Death Stud. 2006;30(10):883-917. doi:10.1080/07481180600923257
  29. Miller FG, Truog RD. Death, Dying, and Organ Transplantation: Reconstructing Medical Ethics at the End of Life. Oxford University Press; 2012.