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26.02.2019 | Reports of Original Investigations | Ausgabe 6/2019

Canadian Journal of Anesthesia/Journal canadien d'anesthésie 6/2019

A mixed-methods study of organ donation in the intensive care unit: 22 actionable practices to improve organ donation

Canadian Journal of Anesthesia/Journal canadien d'anesthésie > Ausgabe 6/2019
MD, MHSc, MSc Simon J. W. Oczkowski, MA Emmy Arnold, MD John Centofanti, RN, PhD Pamela Durepos, MD Aimee Sarti, MSc Erika Arseneau, MD Sonny Dhanani, MD, MSc Deborah J. Cook, MD, MSc Maureen O. Meade
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The online version of this article (doi:https://​doi.​org/​10.​1007/​s12630-019-01332-9) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.

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Rates of organ donation vary between otherwise comparable intensive care units (ICUs) suggesting that the process of donation must vary between ICUs. The purpose of this study was to describe the process of organ donation from the perspective of ICU staff, identify important drivers of successful donation, and develop strategies to improve the process of donation.


We conducted qualitative interviews with 32 ICU staff, including physicians, nurses, and respiratory therapists, using an interview guide developed from previous studies on organ donation. Using a qualitative descriptive approach, we coded interviews using qualitative content analysis. We integrated findings from the interviews in a mixed-methods analysis with previously published data from a document analysis and cross-sectional survey to identify practices that may enhance organ donation in the ICU.


Five major themes important to the organ donation process emerged from the interviews: i) staff relationship with organ donation coordinators; ii) standardized processes; iii) ICU staff beliefs; iv) integration of donation and high quality end-of-life care; v) feedback and staff support. In the mixed-methods analysis, we identified 22 actionable practices to enhance the process of organ donation in the ICU.


Incorporating the perspectives of ICU staff, we were able to identify 22 practice changes that may have a significant cumulative impact on donation outcomes. Future research is required to evaluate whether these findings account for the variability of donation rates between otherwise comparable ICUs.

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