The unofficial psychology blog from Paul Hutchings

Updated: Researching Media Reporting of Organ Donation Legislation Changes

Our team gets quite a lot of requests that we simply can’t find the time to take on (small team, lots of students and ongoing research  = not much time).  However, when it came to examining how the new organ donation legislation changes in Wales are being reported in the media we jumped at the chance.

Wales will, if the Human Transplantation (Wales) Bill is passed, become the first part of the UK to have an organ donation opt-out law –  expecting those adults who live in Wales and wish to not donate their organs to opt-out of the system.  Our job is to look at how and where this information is passed on to the people of Wales in the media –  and that, to me, is a huge issue.  The decisions that people make about their own organs are hugely important;  far too important to allow others to make those decisions for them.  That is why it is vital that the media informs people –  not telling them what to do, but giving them enough information so that they can make the decision for themselves.  Our piece of research will be a small piece of this process but I hope that it helps to ensure that, when the time comes, people are able to make an informed decision – whatever they decide.

Press Release from the School of Psychology & Counselling at Swansea Met UWTSD

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A team of researchers from Swansea Metropolitan’s School of Psychology and Counselling have been appointed by the Welsh Government to examine any regional differences in the media coverage on the proposed organ donation legislation in Wales since November 2011.

If passed by the National Assembly for Wales, the Human Transplantation (Wales) Bill will mean that, unless an individual indicates otherwise, their consent to organ donation may be deemed to have been given in the event of their death.

Dr Paul Hutchings, a social psychologist at Swansea Met and Principal Investigator on the project, said: “The proposed changes to organ donation legislation are some of the biggest changes to health care that the Welsh Government have ever made, and will impact upon every adult living in Wales. Therefore, it is vital that people receive accurate information about what these changes mean so that they can make informed choices. The media can be a powerful tool for providing people with information, but different groups of people use different types of media to access information. Modern media is complex, particularly in Wales where it can involve national, regional, and language issues, combined with the global nature of some forms of media such as social networking. We hope that our research will help to identify how and where information has been provided, and whether more can be done in some areas to get the information across to the public via the media.”

The research team, led by Dr Hutchings, also comprises of: Dr Ceri Phelps who is a chartered health psychologist and senior lecturer at Swansea Met; Paul Grey who is a former psychology and counselling student at the University and is now a research assistant; and Sara Manchipp who is a student on the School’s psychology and counselling degree course. They will spend the next few weeks analysing media output regarding the legislation changes before reporting to the Welsh Government in June.

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