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Open Access Study protocol

Increasing organ donation via anticipated regret (INORDAR): protocol for a randomised controlled trial

Ronan E O'Carroll1, Eamonn Ferguson2, Peter C Hayes34 and Lee Shepherd1*

Author Affiliations

1 Psychology, School of Natural Sciences, University of Stirling, Stirling, UK

2 School of Psychology, University of Nottingham, Nottingham, UK

3 Department of Hepatology, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK

4 Scottish Liver Transplant Unit, Edinburgh Royal Infirmary, Edinburgh, UK

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BMC Public Health 2012, 12:169  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-12-169

Published: 8 March 2012



Throughout the world there is an insufficient supply of donor organs to meet the demand for organ transplantations. This paper presents a protocol for a randomised controlled trial, testing whether a simple, theory-based anticipated regret manipulation leads to a significant increase in posthumous organ donor registrations.


We will use a between-groups, prospective randomised controlled design. A random sample of 14,520 members of the adult Scottish general public will be contacted via post. These participants will be randomly allocated into 1 of the 4 conditions. The no questionnaire control (NQC) group will simply receive a letter and donor registration form. The questionnaire control (QC) arm will receive a questionnaire measuring their emotions and non-cognitive affective attitudes towards organ donation. The theory of planned behavior (TPB) group will complete the emotions and affective attitudes questionnaire plus additional items assessing their cognitive attitudes towards organ donation, perceived control over registration and how they think significant others view this action. Finally, the anticipated regret (AR) group will complete the same indices as the TPB group, plus two additional anticipated regret items. These items will assess the extent to which the participant anticipates regret for not registering as an organ donor in the near future. The outcome variable will be NHS Blood and Transplant verified registrations as an organ donor within 6 months of receiving our postal intervention.


This study will assess whether simply asking people to reflect on the extent to which they may anticipate regret for not registering as an organ donor increases organ donor registration 6 months later. If successful, this simple and easy to administer theory-based intervention has the potential to save lives and money for the NHS by reducing the number of people receiving treatments such as dialysis. This intervention may also be incorporated into future organ donor campaigns.

Trial registration number