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Transpl Int. 2013 Apr;26(4):350-7. doi: 10.1111/tri.12060. Epub 2013 Feb 11.

Public attitudes to financial incentive models for organs: a literature review suggests that it is time to shift the focus from 'financial incentives' to 'reciprocity'.

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  • 1Department of Public Health, University of Copenhagen, Denmark.


Waiting lists for organs have stimulated interest in the use of financial incentives for organ donation (FIs), but the literature does not contain an adequate overview of studies of public attitudes toward this mode of procurement. We conducted a literature review of international peer-reviewed research published between 2002 and 2012 on how members of the public position themselves toward FIs. We identified and analyzed 23 studies using MEDLINE, PsycINFO, Sociological Abstracts and cross-reference search. The search included whole organs, donation, quantitative and empirical qualitative social scientific studies on, public attitudes (excluding professionals and medical students). The review reveals a broad divergence of public opinions on financial incentives. However, quantitative studies showed a low overall level of acceptance of payment for organs in living donation (LD); only a slightly higher one for deceased donation (DD); and a general preference for alternative forms, such as removal of disincentives or expressions of social reciprocity. Across different national and methodological settings we observed a considerable preference of noncommercial forms. This does not preclude the opportunity to consider various types of acknowledgement of economic value given in return for the organ. This provides reason to shift the focus from incentives to reciprocity.

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