International Operating Room Nurses' Lived Experiences in Organ Procurement Surgery: A Phenomenological Study

Sunday, 22 July 2018: 10:15 AM

Weili Gao, MN, BN (Hons), RN
Department of Nursing, Monash University, Melbourne, Australia
Virginia Plummer, PhD, RN, RM, GCHPE, CertCritCare, BN, GradDipHlthAdmin, MSc (Hlt
Faculty of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences, Monash University, Frankston, Australia
Lisa McKenna, PhD
School of Nursing and Midwifery, La Trobe University, Bundoora, Australia


Deceased organ donation can only be performed by removing vital organs from a deceased person whose brain or cardiac death has been confirmed. Deceased organ donation can be technically divided into two types of donations including Donation after Brain Death (DBD) and Donation after Circulatory Death (DCD) (Transplantation Society of Australia and New Zealand [TSANZ], 2016). Healthcare professionals are at the frontline in promoting organ donation activity between the general public and the health care system. Their attitudes toward organ donation have strong impact on the general public. If the attitudes of healthcare professionals are more negative, then their negative attitudes may influence their engagement and behaviours in relation to organ donation and also affect general public’s attitudes or decision making toward organ donation, and even worse, the negative impact may be difficult to reverse (Hu & Huang, 2015; Ríos et al., 2010; Zambudio, Martinez-Alarcon, Parrilla, & Ramirez, 2009). Various attitudes between different cultures are important to recognise and acknowledge, as increasing numbers of healthcare professionals in Australia are from overseas. Operating room (OR) nurses play an essential role in the organ donation process. They are part of a life-transforming team. International OR nurses come from different regions of the world with diverse social and cultural backgrounds, religions, personal beliefs, and education. They are likely to form unique attitudes toward multi-organ procurement that potentially may affect their opinions, clinical practices and behaviours in Australia. A systematic review published by Gao, Plummer, and Williams (2017) showed that there was limited international research regarding OR nurses’ feelings, experiences and attitudes during their participation in deceased organ donation. To date, no research has explored international OR nurses’ experiences and feelings towards deceased organ donation in Australia. Therefore, this research is the first study to explore and provide insights of international nurses participating in deceased organ procurement procedure in the Australian context.


Phenomenology has the potential power to grasp the richest and fullest descriptions from personal experiences to understand a phenomenon, comprehend what it means to the individuals in their ‘life-world’ (Schneider, Whitehead, LoBiondo-Wood, & Haber, 2013). Phenomenological research starts from personal experiences, van Manen treasured a phenomenological research question as it “reflects the researcher’s life-long interest in a particular phenomenon, and this interest often arises out of their personal or professional lives” (Parahoo, 2014, p. 222). He also uses the phrase phenomenology of practice to emphasize the importance of meaning-giving methods of phenomenology in exploring the lived meaning in professional fields as well as the personal living life (van Manen, 2014). Therefore, van Manen’s phenomenological approach with six-methodical structure activities was used to explore the true meaning of the lived experience of international operating room nurses participant in organ procurement surgery (van Manen, 1984, 1997).

This low-risk research is conducted in Australia, and has obtained the ethics approval from Monash University’s Human Research Ethics Committee reference number 2017-8590-10395. All participants are international nurses from non-English speaking backgrounds. Audio-recorded semi-structured conversational interviews were employed to collect the data.


Eighteen international OR nurses from 9 different countries were recruited. The analysis of the data arising from the interviews of the participants is nearing completion and will be presented.


The findings of this study are likely to provide insights into the unique role and contribution of international nurses in organ procurement procedure, as well as awareness of these nurses’ cultural background and personal beliefs and how they impact the individual. This will inform practice for OR nurses and related healthcare teams, together with associated education and policy reform.