Organ Donation and Transplantation: Awareness and Roles of Healthcare Professionals - A systematic Literature Review

Funmi Ojawoniyi, Kevin Gormley, Emma Mcgleenan, Helen Rose Noble

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)


AIMS AND OBJECTIVES: To examine the role of healthcare professionals in the organ donation and transplantation process.

BACKGROUND: Globally, there remains a perennial disequilibrium between organ donation and organ transplantation. Several factors account for this disequilibrium; however, as healthcare professionals are not only strategically positioned as the primary intermediaries between organ donors and transplant recipients, but also professionally situated as the implementers of organ donation and transplantation processes, they are often blamed for the global organ shortage.

DESIGN: Mixed-method systematic review using the PRISMA-P (Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic review and Meta-Analysis Protocols) 2015 checklist.

METHODS: Databases were searched including Cinahl, Medline, Web of Science and EMBASE using the search terms 'organ donation', 'healthcare professionals', 'awareness', and 'roles' to retrieve relevant publications.

RESULTS: 13 publications met the inclusion criteria. The global organ shortage is neither contingent upon unavailability of suitable organs nor exclusively dependent upon healthcare professionals. Instead, the existence of disequilibrium between organ donation and transplantation is necessitated by a web of factors. These include: healthcare professionals' attitudes toward, and experience of, the organ donation and transplantation process, underpinned by professional education, specialist clinical area and duration of professional practice; conflicts of interests; ethical dilemmas; altruistic values towards organ donation; and, varied organ donation legislations in different legal jurisdictions.

CONCLUSION: This review maintains that if this web of factors is to be adequately addressed by health care systems in different global and legal jurisdictions, there should be sufficient organs voluntarily donated to meet all transplantation needs.

RELEVANCE TO CLINICAL PRACTICE: There is a suggestion that healthcare professionals partly account for the global shortage in organ donation but there is a need to examine how healthcare professionals' roles, knowledge, awareness, skills and competencies might impact upon the organ donation and transplantation process. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e726-e738
JournalJournal of Clinical Nursing
Issue number5-6
Early online date03 Nov 2017
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Journal Article
  • Review


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