Organ and tissue donation-related attitudes, education and practices of emergency department clinicians in Australia


  • George A Jelinek, MD, DipDHM, FACEM, Director, Professorial Fellow; Claudia H Marck, BSc, MSC, Research Officer; Tracey J Weiland, BBSc(Hons), MPsych(Health)/PhD, Senior Research Fellow; Sandra L Neate, MBBS, DA (UK), FACEM, Emergency Physician and Hospital Medical Co-Director, Clinical Senior Lecturer; Bernadette B Hickey, MBBS FRACP, Intensive Care Physician and Hospital Medical Co-Director.

  • [Correction added after online publication 28 February 2012: On page 247, in Table 1, in reference to the number of ACEM members in Australia, it reads that there are 254 ACEM members in the ACT, whereas this number should read 54. The percentages displayed in the table are correct.]

Professor George A Jelinek, Emergency Practice Innovation Centre, St. Vincent's Hospital Melbourne, PO Box 2900, Fitzroy, Vic. 3054, Australia. Email:


Objective: The ED is emerging as a priority for efforts to improve rates of organ and tissue donation (OTD) in Australia, but little is known of ED clinicians' attitudes, education or practices in the area. We aimed to determine the attitudes and OTD-related educational background and practices of Australian ED clinicians.

Methods: This was a national cross-sectional survey of members of the Australasian College for Emergency Medicine (ACEM) and the College of Emergency Nursing Australasia (CENA); online questionnaire of 133 items, graded responses using Likert and ordinal multi-category scales, plus open-ended qualitative questions.

Results: Of 2969 ACEM members, 599 (20.2%) responded; of 1026 CENA members, 212 (20.7%) responded. Respondents were broadly representative of the membership, with male trainee specialists underrepresented. Most ED staff supported OTD, although many were not certain that facilitating OTD was their role, or that the ED was the right place to identify donors. Around a quarter of medical and nursing staff had received no education regarding OTD. Having received education was related to professional status, cultural background, place of work and years of experience, and was significantly associated with attitude towards OTD and whether staff participated in OTD-related tasks.

Conclusions: More education on OTD is needed and requested by ED clinicians in Australia, particularly on OTD after cardiac death, management of a donor, brain death and obtaining consent. Postgraduate curricula should reflect this need for more OTD-related education in emergency medicine and nursing.