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J Health Commun. 2011 Oct;16(9):955-75. doi: 10.1080/10810730.2011.561908. Epub 2011 May 24.

An exploratory study of relational, persuasive, and nonverbal communication in requests for tissue donation.

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Department of Social and Behavioral Health, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, 23298, USA.


This study explores the effects of tissue requesters' relational, persuasive, and nonverbal communication on families' final donation decisions. One thousand sixteen (N = 1,016) requests for tissue donation were audiotaped and analyzed using the Siminoff Communication Content and Affect Program, a computer application specifically designed to code and assist with the quantitative analysis of communication data. This study supports the important role of communication strategies in health-related decision making. Families were more likely to consent to tissue donation when confirmational messages (e.g., messages that expressed validation or acceptance) or persuasive tactics such as credibility, altruism, or esteem were used during donation discussions. Consent was also more likely when family members exhibited nonverbal immediacy or disclosed private information about themselves or the patient. The results of a hierarchical log-linear regression revealed that the use of relational communication during requests directly predicted family consent. The results provide information about surrogate decision making in end-of-life situations and may be used to guide future practice in obtaining family consent to tissue donation.

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