11:33am Tuesday 26 September 2017

UC to find out why families say no to organ donation

Nursing researcher Holly Northam aims to understand the factors that influence grieving families to say no, an innovative approach, with research traditionally focusing on reasons people agree to the potentially lifesaving donation.

Ms Northam hopes the research will lead to improvements in the care given to bereaved families in hospitals and will potentially lead to more families agreeing to organ donation.

“Making the decision to donate a loved one’s organs is never easy, but while there has been research into why families agree to organ donation, there is limited research in Australia as to why families say no. This information is important to guide health care workers in caring for families required to make these decisions,” Ms Northam said.
“Often other people (doctors or nurses) are asked why the family said no and they ‘guess’ what they believe the reasons are. This is especially the case in Australia.”
Ms Northam believes that some families don’t have their emotional and information needs met when making a decision about organ donation. She believes that skilled compassionate care and appropriate accurate information is needed for families to make a fully informed decision- and is looking for participants to take part in her study.
She is looking for seven families who have been asked to donate their loved ones organs in the last three years, and who have declined, to tell their story.
Participants will be interviewed about their experience. The interview will be recorded but is strictly confidential.

National statistics indicate 40 to 50 per cent of Australian families faced with the death of a relative and a request to donate will decline donation of their relatives’ organs. In other countries with similar demographics to Australia, the number of families that agree to donation is higher. In Spain and parts of the United States consent rates are as high as 85 per cent.

“There is still a desperate need for more organ donors with nearly 1,600 patients waiting for a transplant as of August 2011,” she said.
“Many ACT residents will wait up to seven years or more for a kidney transplant. Others will die waiting.”
To find out more information or to take part in the study contact holly.northam@canberra.edu.au

  • Holly Northam is available for interview

Contact the University of Canberra media team.

Amanda Powell     M: 0408 826 362 T: 02 6201 5422
Ed O’Daly             M: 0408 829 618 T: 02 6201 2441


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