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Prog Transplant. 2013 Sep;23(3):278-89. doi: 10.7182/pit2013511.

Attitudes of Australian emergency department clinicians toward organ and tissue donation: an analysis of cultural and religious influences.

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St Vincent's Hospital Melbourne, Fitzroy University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia.



To determine Australian emergency department clinicians' cultural and religious barriers to organ and tissue donation (OTD).


A national cross-sectional survey of physicians and nurses working in Australian emergency departments. An online questionnaire of 133 items was delivered via e-mail.


Responses were received from 599 of 2969 (20%) physicians and 212 of 1026 (21%) nurses. Respondents were generally representative of the colleges. Participants were from 26 cultures and 9 religious groups. Self-rated competence in OTD tasks was low for some minority groups: South American, Caribbean, and Pacific Islanders reported little competence in identifying, referring, and caring for potential donors, introducing OTD to families, and approaching distressed families. Those of Arabic, Jewish, North African, and Middle Eastern background reported low competence in referring and caring for potential donors and comforting distressed families. They reported low support for OTD after cardiac death, low familiarity with OTD processes after cardiac death, and poor familiarity with the coroner's process. Those of Southern Asian background reported low comfort in undertaking OTD processes, poor familiarity with the coroner's process, and low competence in caring for potential donors. Those of Islamic faith reported low competence in identifying potential donors, low support for OTD after cardiac death, and thought that the emergency department was an inappropriate location to identify potential donors. Those of Buddhist and Hindu faiths reported low competence in identifying potential donors. Respondent numbers for members of minority groups were low, thereby limiting the statistical accuracy of results.


Among clinicians working in Australian emergency departments, religion and culture may be barriers to facilitating OTD in emergency departments because of the perceptions and attitudes held by particular religious and cultural groups. Improving access to education may address these differences.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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