Influence of religious and spiritual values on the willingness of Chinese-Americans to donate organs for transplantation

Clin Transplant. 2000 Oct;14(5):449-56. doi: 10.1034/j.1399-0012.2000.140502.x.


The rate of organ donation among minority groups in the United States, including Chinese-Americans, is very low. There is currently very little data in the biomedical literature that builds on qualitative research to quantify the attitudes of Chinese Americans toward organ donation. The present study quantitatively assesses the religious and cultural reasons that Chinese-Americans appear to be less willing to donate their organs than other populations. It also seeks to determine whether Confucian, Buddhist, or Daoist ideals are a significant factor in their overall reluctance to donate organs among respondents in this sample. A questionnaire distributed to Chinese American adults asked about general feelings toward organ donation and Buddhist, Confucian, Christian, Daoist, and other spiritual objections. The results suggest that Chinese-Americans are indeed influenced by Confucian values, and to a lesser extent, Buddhist, Daoist, and other spiritual beliefs, that associate an intact body with respect for ancestors or nature. Another significant finding is that the subjects were most willing to donate their organs after their deaths, to close relatives, and then in descending order, distant relatives, people from their home country, and strangers. This 'negotiable' willingness has enormous implications for clinicians, who may be able to increase organ donation rates among Chinese-Americans by, first, recognizing their diverse spiritual beliefs, and, second, offering a variety of possibilities for the organ procurement and allocation.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Asian / psychology*
  • Buddhism*
  • China / ethnology
  • Christianity
  • Cultural Characteristics
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Religion and Medicine*
  • Religious Philosophies
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Tissue Donors / psychology*
  • Tissue and Organ Procurement
  • United States