Background: Recruitment of living donors represents a medical and moral responsibility. Their motives are often complex. Categories of motives and factors causing concern were identified from a previous in-depth interview study and from the literature. The aim of the present study was to evaluate these motives.
Methods: A questionnaire was sent to 207 potential kidney donors undergoing evaluation for donation in Norway and Sweden. They were asked to mark on a visual analogue scale, 0-10, the importance given to each of nine motives and five factors of concern. Questions were also asked about who took the initiative and the source of information.
Results: The response rate was 74%; 154 questionnaires were returned. The strongest motives to become a donor were a wish to help (median 9.3), self-benefit from the recipient's improved health (median 9.2) and identification with the recipient (median 9.1). In contrast, a sense of guilt regarding past relationships (median 0.9), pressure from others (median 0.8), a religious motive (median 0.8) and increased self-esteem (median 0.7) were rare or weak incentives for donation. There were large individual variations in the mix, particularly regarding moral duty (5.6, range 0.1-10.0). Most potential donors (64%) had taken the initiative for the assessment themselves, but in 22% it was the recipient's physician. Physicians were the dominant source of information. The potential donors expressed much more concern for the recipient than for themselves.
Conclusions: Living kidney donor assessment includes an exploration of the individuals' mixed feelings. An analysis of the motive enables individualized treatment and support for non-donors.