A team from Hartford Hospital and the University of Connecticut School of Medicine examined findings from two surveys carried out in 2005. One was a telephone survey of 1,006 members of the public aged 18 and older and the other was a written survey to medical directors of trauma centers, trauma nurses and emergency department staff.
It found 79% of health staff were organ donors compared to only 51% of the public, according to the survey results published online in Archives of Surgery.
The two groups also differed on religious beliefs, with 41% of the public saying religion was important when taking decisions on their medical care but only 31% of health professionals.
The majority of the public, 73%, also felt those that had suffered trauma had the right to demand treatment that was not ordered by a doctor but just 44% of health staff agreed with this.
But the majority in both groups agreed that they would opt for palliative care after a severe injury if doctors said aggressive critical care would not save their lives.