The factors that influence attitudes toward organ donation for transplantation among UK university students of Indian and Pakistani descent


  • Conflict of interest: No author has a conflict of interest.

Corresponding author: Prof. Anthony N. Warrens, PhD, Barts and the London School of Medicine and Dentistry, Garrod Building, Turner St, London E1 2AD, UK.

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The shortage of organs donated for transplantation is particularly severe among ethnic minorities. Previous work has often studied ethnic minorities in broad groups, failing to differentiate by age or country of education. We investigated the younger generation of UK-educated ethnically Indian and Pakistani students to determine their attitudes toward organ donation.


We conducted nine focus groups and eight semi-structured interviews. Participants were divided by ethnicity, gender, and medical/non-medical background. Interview transcripts were analyzed by thematic analysis.


Six key factors influencing attitudes toward organ donation were found: religion, awareness of the importance of donation, impact of medical education, culture-specific factors, treatment of donors and their organs, and influence of family. The attitude of Islam to donation was highly relevant to Pakistani participants, more than other factors; for Indians, all six factors were similarly relevant. We found that medical education specifically had an important effect on shaping attitudes toward donation. Cultural changes suggested the younger generation may differ from their elders as they adopt British culture. Awareness of donation was universally low.


Indian and Pakistani students are hesitant to donate organs because of multiple factors, which if addressed in a culturally relevant manner could substantially improve donation rates.