In the Netherlands there is a shortage of donor organs. To increase the national donor base Reframing Studio has been involved in several projects that aim to support people in making the decision to register. One of these projects is a decision tool we recently developed. This project was commissioned by the Dutch Kidney Foundation (Nierstichting)
In 2020, Dutch legislation on organ donation was changed so that everyone is automatically considered to be a donor, unless they expressly state that they do not want to be. This means that everyone aged 18 and over will be included in the Donor Register. The Donor Register records everyone’s choice regarding donation of organs and tissues after death. If people do not register their choice, they will be recorded in the Donor Register as having ‘no objection to organ donation’.
This ‘opt out’ policy has led to a leap in the number of people agreeing to organ donation in The Netherlands. In practice, although consent for donation is given by the donor, families need to know each other’s donation preferences as donation will only take place after informing the next of kin. This means it is still important that citizens are aware of the impact of the new law and to actively assist people in making a considered choice. The Kidney Foundation commissioned Reframing Studio to explore how design interventions can support the decision-making process.
Organ donation represents a prototypical example of a social dilemma. Many people would like to contribute to a greater cause but at the same time face personal doubts that make it difficult to make a decision on becoming a donor. Often this inner conflict cannot be overcome by simply providing more information or persuasive techniques. Rational arguments do not always convince people in doubt. Complex emotions and beliefs like fear or physical disgust can play an important role in the decision. Considering and doing justice to these emotions within the design is therefore important in evoking cooperative behaviour. This means that a campaign that is based on raising awareness and proving knowledge would not be enough for a large group of citizens.
The team developed a series of concepts that help people to reflect on organ donation in gentle ways. Because of the sensitive subject it is essential don’t feel pressured to make a decision. During the design process concepts were tested and refined with users. The final design is a tool that helps people to explore their own attitude towards organ donation by answering questions. These questions are based on scientific research and expert interviews on the social and psychological factors that influence one’s attitude towards organ donation. Based on your answers you will be matched to a character that represents a certain life philosophy. The final tool was designed by Reframing Studio and developed by Fabrique.