Attitudes, knowledge, and actions with regard to organ donation among Hong Kong medical students

Hong Kong Med J. 2008 Aug;14(4):278-85.


Objective: To study attitudes, knowledge, and actions of local medical students with regard to organ donation and self-perceived confidence and competence in approaching potential organ donors.

Design: Cross-sectional questionnaire survey.

Setting: Faculty of Medicine, The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong.

Participants: Medical students, years 1-5.

Main outcome measures: Knowledge on various aspects of organ donation was assessed, and students' self-evaluated competence and confidence about counselling for organ donation was evaluated. Factors influencing attitudes and actions were determined.

Results: The response rate was 94% (655/694). A majority (85%) had a 'positive' attitude, but only a small proportion (23%) had signed the organ donation card. Inconvenience and lack of knowledge about organ donor registration, and concerns about premature termination of medical treatment accounted for such discrepancies. Socio-cultural factors such as the traditional Chinese belief in preservation of an intact body after death, unease discussing death-related issues, and family objections to organ donation were significantly associated with a 'negative' attitude. Knowledge and action increased with medical education yet only a small proportion of medical students felt competent and confident in counselling patients on organ donation.

Conclusions: The medical curriculum should increase medical students' awareness of the organ shortage problem. The donor registration system should be made more convenient and public education is recommended to correct misconceptions.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Analysis of Variance
  • Attitude of Health Personnel
  • Chi-Square Distribution
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Hong Kong
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Needs Assessment
  • Probability
  • Schools, Medical
  • Students, Medical / psychology*
  • Students, Medical / statistics & numerical data
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Tissue and Organ Procurement / statistics & numerical data*
  • Young Adult