A qualitative analysis of attitudes to face transplants: contrasting views of the general public and medical professionals

J.J. Prior, Orly Klein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

While there has been a considerable criticism and debate about face transplantation from ethicists, surgeons and psychologists, little is known about the attitudes of medical professionals and the general public whose support will be necessary if face transplants are to be accepted. This study therefore conducted in-depth, semi-structured interviews with medical professionals (8) and the general public (8) to explore their understanding of and attitudes to face transplants. A thematic analysis was used to analyse these data. Five overarching themes were identified including agreement in principal, caveats and conditions, medical and technical difficulties, function and appearance, and the significance of the human face. The analysis revealed overwhelming support in principle for face transplants, but with important caveats and conditions. Both groups shared clear representations of deserving and undeserving candidates, and concerns about psychological adjustment. The general public sample demonstrated little understanding of medical implications or the consequences of a failed graft, which did concern the medical professionals. Neither group showed a clear understanding of the psychological or social factors required to predict best outcomes and identify suitable candidates. Analyses revealed a stereotypical belief from both groups that the life of a severely disfigured recipient is intolerable without this operation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1589-1605
Number of pages17
JournalPsychology and health
Volume26
Issue number12
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2011

Keywords

  • face transplants
  • attitudes
  • qualitative

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