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Understanding the Motivation of Organ Donors in the Iranian Organ Market
Last registered on July 26, 2017


Trial Information
General Information
Understanding the Motivation of Organ Donors in the Iranian Organ Market
Initial registration date
July 25, 2017
Last updated
July 26, 2017 11:48 AM EDT
Primary Investigator
University of Warwick
Other Primary Investigator(s)
PI Affiliation
University of Warwick
Additional Trial Information
In development
Start date
End date
Secondary IDs
The Iranian organ market is unique: it matches those who have kidneys they are willing to donate with those who need them, but also allows for the sale of those kidneys. The NGO which administers the market and the medical procedures involved in the transplantation have granted us access to patients prior to their operations and repeated interaction with them in the months that follow. We would like to use this opportunity to investigate the motivations of patients (and should have access to those who decide to donate and those who do not): in particular, to test both the degree of habituation to both the health and financial ramifications of the procedure and the extent to which that habituation is correctly anticipated by patients over a period of several months (before and after the procedure). This will be combined with a tests designed to tease out plausible controls, confounds or corroborating factors (such as risk preference, patience levels, reported subjective well-being, personality traits, planning aptitude and cognitive ability) as well as demographic, personal and employment data on the individuals. We are also hoping to compare key characteristics of the group of donors with a control group of a similar socio-economic background.
External Link(s)
Registration Citation
Kelishomi, Ali and Daniel Sgroi. 2017. "Understanding the Motivation of Organ Donors in the Iranian Organ Market." AEA RCT Registry. July 26. https://doi.org/10.1257/rct.1709-1.0.
Former Citation
Kelishomi, Ali, Daniel Sgroi and Daniel Sgroi. 2017. "Understanding the Motivation of Organ Donors in the Iranian Organ Market." AEA RCT Registry. July 26. http://www.socialscienceregistry.org/trials/1709/history/19840.
Experimental Details
The key intervention will be decision to sell a kidney on the Iranian organ market. There are also a number of decisions subjects will make as part of the ongoing experiment.
Intervention Start Date
Intervention End Date
Primary Outcomes
Primary Outcomes (end points)
Key variables include personal and demographic variables, together with details of employment history, risk preferences, patience levels, whether patients opted to go through the procedure or not, personality traits, measures of planning aptitude and risk, performance in cognitive and behavioural tests and we will collect data on expectations and beliefs and see to what extent these expectations and beliefs are satisfied after the intervention, and again following some time from the intervention.
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
Some patients will not choose to go through the procedure, we will note this as a variable. We will form a measure of expected outcomes from the answers to a selection of survey questions concerning the speed of recovery, the nature and extent of any health deterioration, expected changes in happiness/satisfaction levels and the accuracy of predictions. Each of these provides a subtly different way to measure expectations though all are linked: our plan is to assess which of these is the best representation of beliefs. Our control group will also be asked similar questions on a hypothetical basis and we aim to construct difference-in-difference measures to tease out any special characteristics of group of donors. Key hypotheses include habituation (both in terms of the health ramifications and to the money made during the process) and the failure to anticipate the degree of habituation, as well as linking economically important characteristics like risk preference, personality traits and patience levels to decision-making in an important and irreversible (potentially life-changing) health event.
Secondary Outcomes
Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)
Experimental Design
Experimental Design
A group of patients who plan to undergo kidney transplants will be followed over a number of months and surveyed/tested before and after the procedure.
Experimental Design Details
The NGO will provide us with a list of patients who will be facing a kidney operation in the near future (our treatment group) and we will also have access to a group of similar individuals who are not due to undergo an operation (our control group) We will approach these patients and (using the NGO's own facilities) will conduct a series of surveys/tests. First we collect demographic/personal data and information about their employment history and motivation. We also collect details of their expectations and beliefs concerning any procedure to take place (this might be hypothetical as the control group will not undergo an operation). We then ask our participants to undergo a series of tests designed to tease out pertinent socio-economic and psychological characteristics such as happiness levels, risk preference, patience levels, cognitive ability (using a Raven's IQ test and some simple mathematical/probability questions), personality traits and long-term planning aptitude. The operation then takes place for the treatment group (not for the control group). After the operation we will get the opportunity to once again carry out the same set of tests in two more rounds (with subtle changes such as the expectations questions being replaced with direct questions about recovery and happiness levels): once soon after the operation and a final third round of tests and questions some months later. Given the nature of the intervention (a kidney transplant) we can survey small groups at the same time but much of our data will have to be collecting on a rolling/ongoing basis. We plan to carry out testing for a period of about 2 years (with the final round one set of tests taking place about 1.5 years in, to allow 6 months for rounds 2 and 3). The various tests will be incentivized as if they were laboratory experiments and taking into account Iranian levels of purchasing power parity.
Randomization Method
The decision of who is to be put forward for the organ translant will be in the hands of the NGO and patients.
Randomization Unit
Individuals are selected on medical grounds (kidneys are matched from donors to planned recipients).
Was the treatment clustered?
Experiment Characteristics
Sample size: planned number of clusters
We are clustering down to the inidividual level.
Sample size: planned number of observations
The aim is to exceed 200 patients, with a similar sized control group (200 individuals). If we can do so we will try to go significantly above this number but we are subject to health considerations and donor-matching which may limit our numbers in practice and are outside of our control.
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
200 patients (organ donors), 200 control: we hope to go beyond this (possibly to something like 400 & 400) but there are medical/natural limits to how many patients we will be able to involve which are outside our control.
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
This is the first study of its kind and hence it is hard to know what sort of variation we will see. The final numbers we will have access to are outside our control.
IRB Name
University of Warwick Humanities and Social Sciences Research Ethics Committee
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number
Post Trial Information
Study Withdrawal
Is the intervention completed?
Is data collection complete?
Data Publication
Data Publication
Is public data available?
Program Files
Program Files
Reports, Papers & Other Materials
Relevant Paper(s)