Understanding The Motives Of Body Donors

Claire Smith, Ross Munro, Ceri Davies, Tracey Wilkinson, Hannah Shaw, Kim Claridge, Sarah Llewellyn, Philomena Mc Ateer, Siobhan Ward, Tom Farsides

Research output: Contribution to journalMeeting abstractpeer-review


In the United Kingdom (UK) and Ireland approximately 1,400 body donors for Anatomical Examination are needed per year for the education and training of medical and allied health care professionals. The current study aimed to explore prospective donors' motives, beliefs and desires about body donation to medical schools in England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales, with the hypothesis that their attitudes had not changed since the last such study in the UK in 1995 and that their motivation remained largely altruistic. A prospective, questionnaire-based study of 821 potential donors over a 12 month period revealed a high level of agreement in answers to a number of questions exploring their motivation. Ninety six % of donors agreed they wished to improve the education of health care professionals, 92% agreed it was to help improve health care for patients, 78% considered that it provided a 'good ending' to their life. However, answers to two questions demonstrated a split viewpoint. When asked if saving relatives money was a motive 43% disagreed and 32% agreed, which was a marked increase compared to the 1995 study. A similar trend was seen when it came to sparing relatives inconvenience, with 46% of potential donors answering that this was not a motivating factor, but an increased 29% agreeing that it was. Inconvenience may mean different things to different people; practical, financial and emotional. Donors also reported differing views on avoiding traditional burial rituals with 46% agreeing that body donation helped them avoid such rituals, reflecting that some donor attitudes have changed since the last survey. Understanding donors' altruistic motives is important, but so is recognizing some of the practical considerations important to them and how these may change with time. Therefore, the results of the current study help further our understanding of how we can support socially acceptable and ethical donation practices, including improved resources for donors, as well as also match future needs of the sector.

Original languageEnglish
JournalFASEB journal : official publication of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology
Issue numberS1
Publication statusPublished - 13 May 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics


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