Religion and Post-Mortem Organ Donation: A Study of the Effect of Religious Identity on Organ Donation Decisions among Nurses




Markowitz, Jerrold I.

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This interdisciplinary study identified and assessed from a religious context the category of beliefs that influenced nurses’ post-mortem organ donation decisions, and the nurses’ donation concerns. George Mason University’s Director of the School of Nursing supported this research. This included sending emails, containing an electronic link to the 18-item questionnaire, to currently enrolled students through the School’s listserve. Data were analyzed from 117 respondents by identifying patterns that emerged. A majority of respondents indicated their identification and involvement with a religion and commitment to their own post-mortem organ donations. The “personal beliefs” category most often influenced the donation decisions of one group of committed organ donors, and the “both religious and personal beliefs” category influenced a second, but relatively smaller, group of committed organ donors. A third, small group of minimally-committed organ donors was also identified: responses indicated that a mixture of the “personal beliefs” category and the “both religious and personal beliefs” category influenced respondents’ decisions; only one respondent indicated that the “religious beliefs” category influenced a decision. The results of this study suggest that for most of the committed post-mortem organ donors their decisions were personal, primarily influenced by personal beliefs, and not influenced by religious beliefs. The “personal beliefs” category may reflect a strong expression of the respondents’ autonomy and free will. This study also identified organ donation concerns from committed and minimally-committed post-mortem organ donors. Recommendations for addressing these donation concerns, which have religious, emotional, and ethical components, are outlined. This thesis is a reference for those who want to understand post-mortem organ donation decisions from a religious perspective.



Religion, Religious identity, Post-mortem organ donation, Nurses