Open Access Open Badges Research article

Knowledge and attitude of ICU nurses, students and patients towards the Austrian organ donation law

Vanessa Stadlbauer1, Peter Steiner2, Martin Schweiger4, Michael Sereinigg4, Karl-Heinz Tscheliessnigg4, Wolfgang Freidl3 and Philipp Stiegler15*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Internal Medicine, Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Medical University of Graz, Graz, Austria

2 eHealth Master Course, University of Applied Sciences FH Joanneum, Graz, Austria

3 Institute of Social Medicine and Epidemiology, Medical University of Graz, Graz, Austria

4 Department of Transplantation Surgery, Medical University of Graz, Graz, Austria

5 Department for Surgery, Division for Transplant Surgery, Medical University Graz, Auenbruggerplatz 29,A-8036, Graz, Austria

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BMC Medical Ethics 2013, 14:32  doi:10.1186/1472-6939-14-32

Published: 16 August 2013



A survey on the knowledge and attitudes towards the Austrian organ donation legislation (an opt-out solution) of selected groups of the Austrian population taking into account factors such as age, gender, level of education, affiliation to healthcare professions and health related studies was conducted.


An online survey among 3 target groups (ICU nurses, health science students and non health science students) was performed and results were compared to the answers from transplantation patients to a paper questionnaire. A total of 8415 persons were asked to participate in the survey and 2025 (24%) persons correctly completed the questionnaire. 1945 online responses (ICU nurses n = 185; students of health sciences n = 1277; students of non-health science related courses n = 483) were analysed and data were compared to 80 manually filled-in responses from patients from a previous study.


84% of participants state that they know the Austrian organ donation legislation; this percentage varies significantly (p < 0.05) within the target groups and is influenced by demographic variables of the participants. 74% think that the law is good and 79% do not favour a change. Opinions and attitudes towards the legal situation are positively influenced by the affiliation to healthcare professions and health-related fields of study. Interviewed persons who were aware of the legislation before the survey had a more positive attitude towards the existing legislation (77% versus 74%, p < 0.05).


The information level on Austrian organ donation legislation is high. ICU nurses and those who did not know the law before were most critical towards the existing legislation. Therefore education to increase knowledge in the general population and goal-oriented efforts to increase awareness in the target groups should be emphasized.

Organ donation; Legislation; Knowledge and attitude; ICU nurses; Students; Patients