Background: Despite broad public support for organ donation, there is a chronic shortage of deceased donor organs. We sought to identify community preferences for features of organ donation policies.
Methods: A discrete choice study was conducted using an online panel of Australian community respondents older than 18 years. Respondents were presented with scenarios comparing a new policy to the current policy. Tradeoffs between 8 policy aspects were quantified using mixed logit and latent class models: registration system, extent of donor family involvement, ease of registration, frequency of confirmation of intent, direct payment, and funeral expense reimbursement, priority for donor's family, and formal recognition of donation.
Results: There were 2005 respondents (mean, 44.6 years). We found a strong preference for a new policy. Overall, respondents favored a policy that included: some involvement of the donor's family in the final decision, simple registration processes, less frequent reconfirmation of donation intent, direct payment or funeral expense reimbursement, and formal recognition of donation. However, there was significant preference heterogeneity across respondents, with various respondent groups valuing policy mechanisms differently. Respondents who viewed policy change negatively were also those who would be unlikely to be organ donors anyway, because they tended to hold negative views toward organ donation.
Conclusions: Our results suggest that the Australian community are open to alternative organ donation policies including changes to: registration systems, family involvement, and financial and nonfinancial mechanisms. Future policy discussions should not be limited by preconceived notions of what is acceptable to the community, rather informed by actual community values and preferences.