Nurses’ knowledge about and attitudes toward organ donation in state and private hospitals in Johannesburg, South Africa

K Crymble, H R Etheredge, J Fabian, P Gaylard


Background. Nurses are intricately involved in organ donation; however, the referral of donors appears to be declining in Johannesburg, South Africa (SA). This may be due to barriers in the referral process.

Objectives. The objectives of this study were to explore nurses’ knowledge of the organ donation process and to explore personal beliefs and attitudes around organ donation.

Methods. A quantitative, self-administered questionnaire was completed by nurses in Johannesburg, SA.

Results. A total of 273 nurses participated, of whom most were female and <50 years old. The majority of participants (64.2%) reported positive attitudes, and 63.2% stated that their personal beliefs about organ donation did not influence the advice they gave to patients. However, only 36.8% felt confident referring potential donors and 35.8% felt that referral was within their scope of practice. Most participants (84.5%) felt that it was the doctor’s responsibility to refer donors, but 80.3% noted that they would refer donors themselves if there was a mandatory referral protocol. Only 61% of nurses were aware that there was access to a transplant procurement coordinator through their hospitals; however, there was uncertainty regarding the role of the coordinator.

Conclusion. There is an urgent need to clarify the role of nurses in the process of organ donor referral in SA. Although nurses felt positive about organ donation, they expressed uncertainties about referring potential donors. However, if a clear protocol for referral was introduced, the majority of nurses noted that they would willingly follow it. We advocate for the development and implementation of a nationally endorsed protocol for donor referral and for the training of nurses in organ donation in SA.

Authors' affiliations

K Crymble, Wits Donald Gordon Medical Centre, Johannesburg, South Africa

H R Etheredge, Wits Donald Gordon Medical Centre, Johannesburg, South Africa

J Fabian, Wits Donald Gordon Medical Centre, Johannesburg, South Africa; Department of Internal Medicine, School of Clinical Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa

P Gaylard, Data Management and Statistical Analysis (DMSA), Johannesburg, South Africa

Full Text

PDF (275KB)


Organ transplant, organ procurement, South Africa, Nurses, attitudes, medicine, policy

Cite this article

Southern African Journal of Critical Care 2017;33(2):52-58. DOI:10.7196/322

Article History

Date submitted: 2017-02-27
Date published: 2017-10-11

Article Views

Abstract views: 3614
Full text views: 1338

Comments on this article

*Read our policy for posting comments here