If you needed an organ transplant would you have one? The effect of reciprocity priming and mode of delivery on organ donor registration intentions and behaviour

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Abstract

Objective:

There are approximately 6,500 people on the UK national transplant waiting list, around 400 of whom die every year. Only 35% of the UK population are currently on the organ donation register. We report two studies examining whether a reciprocity prime, in which participants were asked whether they would accept a donated organ, increased organ donation intentions and behaviour.

Design:

Between-participants, randomized controlled design.

Methods:

In two studies, participants who were not currently registered organ donors took part either face-to-face or online and were randomly allocated to a reciprocity prime or control condition. Following the manipulation, they were asked to indicate, on either a paper or online questionnaire, their intention to join the organ donor register. Study 2 was similar to Study 1 but with the addition that after reporting intention, participants were then offered an organ donation information leaflet or the opportunity to click a link for further information (proxy behavioural measure).

Results:

In both studies, reciprocity primed participants reported greater intentions to register than controls. However, in Study 2, no effect on donation behaviour was found.

Conclusions:

Reciprocal altruism may be a useful tool in increasing intentions to join the organ donor register. Further evaluation is required to determine whether this increase in intention can be translated into organ donation behaviour.

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