Primary care physicians' attitudes and practices regarding discussing organ donation with their patients

J Natl Med Assoc. 2010 Jan;102(1):52-8. doi: 10.1016/s0027-9684(15)30478-8.


Purpose: Among the general population, discussing organ donation with a primary care provider may be associated with increased willingness to donate. However, the frequency with which primary care providers hold these discussions with their patients has not been reported.

Setting: Cross-sectional mail and an Internet survey of validated questions regarding organ donation were done.

Subjects: A national sample of 831 primary care physicians. black, and Hispanic physicians were oversampled.

Results: Few physicians reported receiving formal training in donation (17%). Only 5% of physicians have donor cards available in their practice, and only 11% have donation information available in their practice. While 30% of physicians reported discussing end-of-life care with their patients, fewer than 4% reported discussing donation with their patients. However, only 36% felt that discussing donation was outside of their scope of practice. In a multivariate regression model, predictors of discussing donation with patients included having received formal education about organ donation (odds ratio [OR], 2.6; p < .05) and discussing end-of-life care with patients (OR, 12.8; p < .001).

Conclusions: Very few primary care physicians reported discussing organ donation with their patients despite the majority agreeing that it was within their scope of practice. Primary care physicians who had received education on the subject or who regularly discuss end-of-life care with their patients were more likely to discuss donation. Efforts to improve donation in the general population should include a focus on understanding and improving communication about organ donation between providers and their patients.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • African Americans
  • Attitude of Health Personnel
  • Communication*
  • Confidence Intervals
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Data Collection
  • Female
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Hispanic or Latino
  • Humans
  • Internet
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Odds Ratio
  • Ohio
  • Physician-Patient Relations*
  • Physicians, Family / psychology
  • Physicians, Family / statistics & numerical data*
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians'
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Tissue and Organ Procurement*
  • United States