Exploring the psychological effects of deceased organ donation on the families of the organ donors

Clin Transplant. May-Jun 2008;22(3):341-7. doi: 10.1111/j.1399-0012.2008.00790.x. Epub 2008 Feb 25.


Background: Our specific aim was to investigate whether the donation process hindered or ameliorated the bereavement process for organ donor families, specifically with regard to depression, post-traumatic stress and grief.

Methods: Using the British Columbia Transplant Society (BCTS) database, we mailed packages to donor families who consented to and successfully proceeded to donate. Each package contained three standardized, validated questionnaires that included scales of depression, post-traumatic stress, and bereavement. We also included a newly designed questionnaire specific to the BCTS Donation Experience. Seventy-three completed packages were received and analyzed using multiple regression models. Our overall response rate was 46%.

Results: The younger the deceased and the shorter the time elapsed since donation, the greater the strength of bereaved feelings reported by the donor families. If donor families felt there were negative aspects about the donation process, the more likely they were bothered by symptoms of post-traumatic stress. The more comforted donor families felt about donation, the less likely they were bothered by feelings of depression.

Conclusions: Our data suggest that donation has a beneficial effect on the bereavement process.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Bereavement
  • British Columbia
  • Depression / etiology
  • Family / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Stress, Psychological
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Tissue Donors
  • Tissue and Organ Procurement / methods*