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The Gift of Life: A Comprehensive Literature Review on Organ Donation Perception


Medical organ donation is a necessary medical process that rescues innumerable human beings annually. Fan et al. (2022), although there is a pressing necessity for organs, the supply exceeds demand, leading to extensive waiting lists and avoidable fatalities (Fan et al., 2022). According to Mithra et al. (2013), the perception held by society about this lifesaving practice significantly impacts its success rate. According to Kong et al. (2022), understanding the factors influencing people’s attitudes toward donating organs is vital for increasing donor rates and saving more lives, making this literature review necessary (Kong et al., 2022). Thus, this literature review aims to provide insights into current research regarding public perception towards organ donations while analyzing factors like socio-economic backgrounds, cultural or religious beliefs, media representation, and educational campaigns; all potentially impacting how individuals perceive these procedures. Examining existing works will also help identify challenges and opportunities associated with improving social perceptions and increasing donor rates accomplished using education efforts to promote positive ideas concerning said practices.

Factors influencing organ donation perception

One of the significant factors influencing organ donation perception is culture. Mithra et al. (2013) discovered that cultural ideas and behaviors significantly influence people’s attitudes toward organ donation. For example, in South India, Hindu culture opposes organ transplantation because the body is considered a sacred organism that should not be disturbed. In comparison, Muslim society promotes organ donation as a charitable deed. Similarly, in a cross-sectional study performed in China, Fan et al. (2022) discovered that culture and customary views were significant obstacles to organ donation. They proposed tailoring education and awareness efforts to meet these societal barriers. Jawoniyi et al. (2018) conducted a systematic literature review to explore the awareness and roles of healthcare professionals regarding organ donation and transplantation. They found that cultural and religious beliefs were among the significant factors affecting healthcare professionals’ attitudes toward organ donation. The authors noted that healthcare professionals’ personal beliefs and values often influence their advice to potential organ donors and their families. This finding highlights the importance of sensitizing healthcare professionals to their patient’s cultural and religious nuances to provide accurate and unbiased information regarding organ donation (Jawoniyi et al., 2018).

Moreover, Vincent et al. (2019) investigated undergraduate medical and nursing students’ knowledge, attitude, and perception toward organ donation in South India. They found that cultural and religious beliefs were among the primary barriers to organ donation. The authors recommended the incorporation of cultural and religious perspectives in organ donation awareness campaigns to overcome these barriers (Vincent et al., 2019). Mercado-Martnez et al. (2015) additionally performed a literature analysis on the perspectives of healthcare personnel on organ donation and transplantation. The authors observed that societal beliefs such as the sanctity of the body frequently impact healthcare personnel’s choice to address organ donation with patients and their families. They suggested that healthcare workers undergo cultural competence training to handle these cultural obstacles (Mercado-Martnez et al., 2015).

Moreover, religious convictions play a role in molding people’s outlooks toward giving away their organs, and these beliefs are different amongst various religions. In Hong Kong, according to research from Cheung and Kuah (2020), Buddhism and Taoism, the prevalent faiths, support organ donation because it is regarded solely as an act of kindness. However, they also found that traditional Chinese customs, such as the “yin yang” philosophy, could stop this course by advocating for upholding bodily balance instead through preservation measures. Likewise, in America, Oliver et al. (2012) conducted further studies on religious practices affecting opinions regarding donating one’s organs; interestingly, Christians or Jews have higher willingness chances than Muslims or Hindus, who were less likely to do. They recommended that healthcare professionals be trained to understand better their patients’ respective belief systems concerning transplant recipients professionally. Aside from spirituality, other factors come into place, especially trust in health care services available. Another study by Iniesta-Sepúlveda et al.(2022) confirmed that how reliable someone perceives medical providers contributes significantly to this outcome when deciding whether or not they would donate tissue. Typically, those individuals already trusting local institutions are more likely beneficiaries and hence had shared knowledge-driven arguments pushing others to, while persons with low confidence levels were inclined not to participate. Iniesta-Sepúlveda et al. (2022) suggested, therefore, clinicians should address concerns raised forthwith, and build rapport, hopefully increasing points of view considering organ contributions from a general perspective.

Furthermore, education and awareness initiatives, according to research, are critical in encouraging organ donation, and various studies have highlighted their efficacy in raising donation rates. A systematic literature review performed by Jawoniyi et al. (2018) discovered that education and awareness initiatives favorably impacted attitudes toward organ donation and raised donation rates. According to the research, healthcare workers are critical in encouraging organ donation and transplantation. As a result, they must be adequately educated to convey the advantages of donation to patients and their families. Similarly, Mithra et al. (2013) researched India to assess the perceptions and attitudes toward organ donation of individuals seeking healthcare in tertiary care facilities. The research discovered that individuals who had gotten prior instruction on organ donation were more likely to have a positive outlook toward donation than those who had not. The study emphasized the importance of ongoing education and awareness efforts to encourage organ donation (Mithra et al., 2013).

On the other hand, Vincent et al. (2019) conducted research in India and discovered that despite a high degree of awareness of organ donation among medical and nursing students, their willingness to give organs could have been higher. The research recommended that comprehensive educational initiatives be developed to handle the gaps in information and perceptions about organ donation. Fan et al. (2022) conducted a cross-sectional examination in China to evaluate the broad public’s indulgence, attitudes, and willingness to donate organs. The research revealed that while people had diminutive information about organ donation, their attitudes and willingness to give organs were strong. Fan et al.’s research suggested a need for increasing donation rates, which could be achieved by concentrating on growing organ donation knowledge.

Besides, research shows that effective communication is crucial in shaping organ donation perceptions. Education and awareness campaigns have been identified as practical means of increasing organ donation rates (Jawoniyi et al., 2018). These campaigns can effectively improve people’s attitudes toward organ donation, especially when healthcare professionals are adequately trained to promote organ donation and transplantation. However, how information is presented can significantly affect people’s attitudes toward organ donation (Knox, 2017). Knox’s systematic literature review and research agenda for organ donation decision communication highlight the importance of tailoring communication strategies to different target groups to ensure effective messaging.

Furthermore, Kong’s (2022) study on the effect of self-determined appeal organ donation messages found that messages emphasizing the autonomy of the decision increased the willingness to donate. This study highlights the need for communication strategies that empower individuals to make decisions regarding organ donation. By emphasizing the autonomy of the decision, self-determined appeal organ donation messages can effectively increase organ donation rates.

Gaps in the Literature

Upon examination of the literature on organ donation, it is clear that our understanding needs to be revised. To begin with, we need to conduct further research into how culture and religion impact decisions about donating organs. Although Vincent et al.’s (2019) study examines the attitudes and perceptions of medical students from India regarding this issue – which provides some insights – more extensive analysis needs to be done across various cultural groups worldwide for a comprehensive picture as factors such as these can significantly influence one’s readiness to donate their organs. Furthermore, researchers should better investigate healthcare professionals’ roles in promoting organ donations. While Jawoniyi et al.’s (2018) work, along with Mercado-Martínez et al.’ s( 2015), have reviewed existing materials on healthcare workers’ awareness vis-à-vis transplantation subjects, there exists an insufficiency when considering methods focusing specifically on assessing health providers beliefs or perspectives towards influencing rates involving donated bodily tissues Weighing all aspects because clinicians could prove essential advocates by propagating messages highlighting benefits while appearing informative within patient interactions thereby attempting bridging misconceptions between themselves and potential donors making them cognizant gained ground quickly through effective education campaigns finally resulting increased contributions overall higher levels locally regionally nationally even globally.

More material should also be on organ donation’s social and legal problems. Although Skowronski et al. (2021) performed a scoping analysis of death perceptions in the setting of organ donation and transplantation, there is a shortage of research on the ethical consequences of organ donation. It is critical to consider the ethical ramifications of organ donation, especially when the giver has died, and the family has decided to contribute organs. The results of Jawoniyi et al. (2018), who emphasized the significance of healthcare professionals’ responsibilities in organ donation and transplantation, corroborate this claim. The authors advocated for sufficient training of healthcare workers to support organ donation, including education on ethical and legal problems regarding organ donation. Knox (2017) also emphasized the significance of communication tactics in organ donation decision-making. Communication strategies should be customized to various target groups, including handling ethical and legal concerns to ensure the message is successfully conveyed (Knox, 2017). As a result, more study is required to investigate organ donation’s ethical and legal issues sud how these issues can be successfully conveyed to various target groups, including healthcare workers and the general public.

One must examine the influence of donor education and support programs in greater detail. Despite Mithra et al.’s (2013) exploration of organ donation attitudes among patients seeking healthcare at tertiary care facilities in India, there is a need for further research to evaluate these types of initiatives effectiveness. It can be instrumental in scrutinizing their impact on increasing rates of organ transplantation while also addressing common misconceptions associated with them. More studies are required to assess how different communication strategies could effectively improve public awareness about such campaigns. Kong’s (2022) and Knox’s (2017) previous work has explored the relationship between communication practices and people’s perceptions of engaging with various donors; nonetheless, the contemporary analysis must compare diverse methods across multiple settings or demographics. This field would benefit from a more extensive investigation as effective messaging techniques may boost participation levels significantly, resulting in lifesaving transplants happening faster than they currently do. Equally essential is exploring other approaches regarding how successful unique advertising schemes have been improving this process thus far. While Jawoniyi et al.’s (2018) review explicitly emphasizes health professionals’ role within outreach efforts related specifically around raised consciousnesses over it – researchers still should continue examining ways we determine which avenue our most valuable means by communicating its dire importance overall.

Implications for Practice

The research studies examined have numerous implications for practice. First, sufficient instruction should be provided to healthcare workers to encourage organ donation and transplantation, which is crucial in growing donation rates. This training should include teaching the ethical and legal foundations of organ donation and communication skills for successfully communicating with prospective donors’ families. Second, communication tactics should be tailored to various target groups, and messages should stress choice autonomy to boost donor willingness. Third, education and awareness initiatives successfully raise organ donation rates and should be integrated into regular healthcare practice to increase organ donation rates. Fourth, more study is needed to investigate the variables that affect the choice to give organs and to create effective strategies to increase donation rates, especially among disadvantaged groups. Finally, it is critical to incorporate and engage prospective donors’ families in the decision-making process to increase donation rates and ensure that their desires and views are honored. These consequences emphasize the importance of a comprehensive strategy for organ donation promotion that includes education, communication, and engagement with healthcare workers and the general public.


The literature on organ donation perspective addresses society, faith, education, awareness initiatives, and communication as essential variables influencing people’s opinions toward organ donation. According to this literature analysis, education and awareness initiatives should be customized to various target groups to resolve cultural and religious obstacles. Furthermore, healthcare workers should be appropriately trained to encourage organ donation and transplantation. Communication tactics must also be customized to communicate the word about organ donation. This literature review lays the groundwork for future research to fill gaps in the literature on the organ donor perspective.


‌Fan, X., Li, M., Rolker, H., Li, Y., Du, J., Wang, D., & Li, E. (2022). Knowledge, attitudes, and willingness to organ donation among the general public: a cross-sectional survey in China. BMC Public Health22(1).

‌Mercado-Martínez, F. J., Padilla-Altamira, C., Díaz-Medina, B., & Sánchez-Pimienta, C. (2015). Views of health care personnel on organ donation and transplantation: A literature review. Texto & Contexto – Enfermagem24(2), 574–583.

Cheung, S. W. L., & Kuah, K. E. (2019). Being Christian through External Giving. Religions10(9), 529.

Iniesta-Sepúlveda, M., López-Navas, A. I., Gutiérrez, P. R., Ramírez, P., & Ríos, A. (2022). The Willingness to Donate Organs in Medical Students From an International Perspective: A Meta-Analysis. Transplant International35.

Jawoniyi, O., Gormley, K., McGleenan, E., & Noble, H. R. (2018). Organ donation and transplantation: Awareness and roles of healthcare professionals-A systematic literature review. Journal of Clinical Nursing27(5-6), e726–e738.

Knox, K. (2017). A Systematic Literature Review and Research Agenda for Organ Donation Decision Communication – Kathy Knox, Joy Parkinson, Bo Pang, Haruka Fujihira, Patricia David, Sharyn Rundle-Thiele, 2017. Progress in Transplantation.

Kong, S. (2022). Examining the Effect of Self-Determined Appeal Organ Donation Messages and Respective Underlying Mechanism. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health19(17), 10619.

Mithra, P., Ravindra, P., Unnikrishnan, B., Rekha, T., Kanchan, T., Kumar, N., Papanna, M., Kulkarni, V., Holla, R., & Divyavaraprasad, K. (2013). Perceptions and attitudes towards organ donation among people seeking healthcare in tertiary care centers of coastal south India. Indian Journal of Palliative Care19(2), 83.

Oliver, M., Ahmed, A., & Woywodt, A. (2012). Donating in good faith or getting into trouble Religion and organ donation revisited. World Journal of Transplantation2(5), 69.

Skowronski, G., Ramnani, A., Walton-Sonda, D., Forlini, C., O’Leary, M. J., O’Reilly, L., Sheahan, L., Stewart, C., & Kerridge, I. (2021). A scoping review of the perceptions of death in the context of organ donation and transplantation. BMC Medical Ethics22(1).

Vincent, B. P., Kumar, G., Parameswaran, S., & Kar, S. S. (2019). Knowledge, attitude, and perception on organ donation among undergraduate medical and nursing students at a tertiary care teaching hospital in the southern part of India: A cross-sectional study. Journal of Education and Health Promotion, pp. 8, 161.


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