A Critical Ethnographic Study of Families of Brain Dead Patients: Their Experiences and Attitudes to Organ Donation

Hedayat Allah Lalegani, Sima Babaei, Nasrollah Alimohammadi, Ahmadreza Yazdannik, Behnam Sanei, Pantea Ramezannezhad6


Background: Despite the difficulty of making decisions providing facilitating mediators and removing barriers to making decisions about choosing the right path to donate the organs of brain‑dead patients by families can assist in improving the services and help the lives of fellow human beings. This study aimed to explain the decision‑making mediator for organ donation in families with brain‑dead patients in a cultural context.

Materials and Methods: This qualitative study with a critical ethnographic approach was conducted based on Carspecken’s stages from August 2021 to March 2022. In this regard, 22 participants were selected through the purposive sampling method and considering the inclusion and exclusion criteria. Sampling was continued until data saturation. After obtaining the required ethical approval, data collection was performed through observation, semi‑structured interviews, and document review. All data were recorded and managed using MAXQDA 18 software.

Results: Based on the results, the main themes and subthemes of this study included “inefficient decision‑making mediator” (the shadow of the socioeconomic situation on the medical status of organ recipients, as well as pessimistic influential individuals, social accountability, dialect difference, and ethnic beliefs) and “efficient decision‑making mediator” (social learning, material, and spiritual motivation, mother role, and divine reward).

Conclusions: The results of this study, derived from a cultural context, can be applied to carrying out future applied and empirical research. Moreover, they can be used in the field of various nursing roles, especially management, care, and education.


Anthropology, brain death, cultural, decision‑making, organ transplantation

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