Research informing the introduction and communication of major legislative change in Wales


Why the client needed the research

The Welsh Government (WG) has introduced a soft opt-out system of organ donation. The legislation means that unless an individual has indicated otherwise their organs and tissues will be available for transplantation in the event of their death.  Relatives will be consulted, as is the case now. This new law came into effect in December 2015.

With a significant policy change affecting the entire population of Wales, research played an integral role in the government’s strategies for policy implementation and communication of the legislation change. As a result, Beaufort was commissioned by the Welsh Government to deliver against key areas as the Bill moved towards implementation. We have conducted a broad range of research using qualitative and quantitative techniques and amongst consumer and specialist stakeholder and medical audiences on the Bill and on attitudes towards the change in legislation.

Our approach

A central component of the research programme is a quantitative tracking survey among a representative sample of adults living in Wales, using our face-to-face omnibus survey. The client needed to have in place a research strategy for measuring public awareness, understanding, and perceptions over time and our omnibus provides a cost-effective vehicle for satisfying these objectives. The surveys also help the Welsh Government to gauge the effectiveness and impact of the communication campaign on the legislative change. We are providing this service using eight waves of our quarterly Wales Omnibus survey of 1,000 adults which is conducted in-home. Specifically, the research centres on current behaviours, awareness and understanding of the legislation, support for the change, impact on behaviour and campaign awareness.


Beaufort’s knowledge of this policy area has been enhanced by related qualitative studies for the Welsh Government among residents of Wales (including those from hard-to-reach groups such as Welsh speakers and those from different faith groups and non-white backgrounds); and among specialist nurses and clinicians for organ donation, which required a technical understanding of the organ donation process.

The qualitative research among the general public explored attitudes towards organ donation in general, highlighting any concerns or issues, as well as awareness of and attitudes to changes in the legislation in Wales. During the two waves of research conducted so far among specialist medical audiences, the qualitative research sought to assess views on the introduction of the soft-opt out system and to identify any concerns around its implementation.  There is a further wave of qualitative research amongst specialist nurses and clinical leads for organ donation to follow.

In addition we have conducted qualitative research (involving focus groups, mini-groups, depths and triads) among consumers and stakeholders to test the proposed advertising creative communicating the change in legislation.

The outcome

The various elements of the research programme have worked in different ways: informing the development of the communications campaign and helping ensure the advertising effectively communicates the desired messages; monitoring the effectiveness of the communications through its different stages by tracking who has seen it and what they have taken out from it; providing the Welsh Government with regular and robust updates on public awareness, behaviour and attitudes towards the change, so that it can address any issues as they arise; lastly, supplying insight into the views of specialist medical audiences so that any concerns or issues from a medical perspective can be overcome.