Schein, Marcus

Postmortale Organspende in Deutschland

Eine Frage der Gerechtigkeit, Moral und Informiertheit?

The number of organ donors in Germany continuously shrinks since 2010 (DSO, 2014). With just 876 organ donors a historical low was reached in the year of 2013. Those who suffer from the growing shortness of donated organs available for transplantation surgeries are seriously diseased patients. By the end of December 2013, almost 11,000 Germans were registered on a transplantation surgery waiting list (Deutsche Stiftung Organtransplantation, 2014) Although the latest DSO e. V. (2014) report is very precise in displaying the numerical status quo of organ donation in Germany, it cannot deliver answers concerning the questions of why increasingly more people refuse donate organs and what can be done to improve the current situation.

This study explores the extent to which the organ donation decision-making process is driven by perceptions of distributive, procedural and informational justice, as well as moral conviction. Furthermore, an experimental manipulation shall clarify what we can expect from providing informational material to increase donation attitudes. The behavioral science concept of organizational justice describes the influence of perceptions of justice and injustice on personal attitudes and behavior (Adams, 1963; Adams, 1965; Bies, 1986; Greenberg, 1993; Leventhal, 1980; Thibaut & Walker, 1975). Moral convictions are unbreakable beliefs in something being right or wrong Mullen & Skitka, 2006; Skitka & Bauman, 2008; Skitka, Bauman, & Sargis, 2005; Skitka & Mullen, 2008). Whenever such feelings are strong and based upon morality, they are likely to affect our attitudes and intentions.

The results of this Master Thesis demonstrate that respondents’ donation attitudes are strongly influenced by moral convictions. Although, informational material has the ability to increase donation attitudes and candidates’ perceived fairness towards organ donation they fail to address moral beliefs. Distributive, procedural and information justice significantly correlated with donation attitudes, as well as explaining significant variance. Both perceived fairness and donation attitudes are causally influenced by participants’ moral beliefs, leading to the conclusion that a situation of motivated reasoning was revealed. Instead of building donation attitudes based upon experiences such as perceptions of fairness, participants already arrived at a conclusion towards organ donation based upon their moral beliefs (Ditto et al., 2009).

The results of this study imply that the current situation of shrinking commitment towards organ donation in Germany will not significantly change in the near future. Despite providing general information about organ donation and increased fairness, which has the ability to improve donation attitudes, it is morality that was found to be the dominant element in the organ donation decision-making process. I believe that people must be addressed on an entirely different layer, far beyond neutral education about the process of organ donation and transplantation. However, moral beliefs remain deeply anchored in individuals’ hearts. A change in mindset must be considered a mid- or even long-term goal and will not happen overnight. Unfortunately, thousands of patients whose lives depend upon a transplantation surgery will not have that much time.


Titel (deutsch): Postmortale Organspende in Deutschland: Eine Frage der Gerechtigkeit, Moral und Informiertheit?
Titel (englisch): Postmortal Organ Donation in Germany: A Question of Justice, Morality and Information?
Erhebungszeitraum: 08/2014
Stichprobe (effektiv): 334
Stand der Informationen: 26.11.2014


Marcus Schein

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