Background: Black, Asian and minority ethnic groups have a high need for organ transplantation but deceased donation is low. This restricts the availability of well-matched organs and results in relatively long waiting times for transplantation, with increased mortality risks. Objective: To identify barriers to organ donor registration and family consent among the BAME population, and to develop and evaluate a training intervention to enhance communication with ethnic minority families and identify impacts on family consent. Methods: Three-phase programme comprising community-based research involving two systematic reviews examining attitudes and barriers to organ donation and effective interventions followed by 22 focus groups with minority ethnic groups; hospital-based research examining staff practices and influences on family consent through ethics discussion groups with staff, a study on intensive care units and interviews with bereaved ethnic minority families; and development and evaluation of a training package to enhance cultural competence among ICU staff. Setting: Community focus group study in eight London boroughs with high prevalence of ethnic minority populations. Hospital studies at five NHS hospital trusts. Participants: Community studies: 228 focus group participants; hospital studies: 35 nurses, 28 clinicians, 19 hospital chaplains, 25 members of local Organ Donation Committees, 17 bereaved family members; and evaluation: 66 health professionals. Data sources: Focus groups with community residents, systematic reviews, qualitative interviews and observation in ICUs, EDGs with ICU staff, bereaved family interviews and questionnaires for trial evaluation. Review methods: Systematic review and narrative synthesis. Results: Community studies: Organ Donor Register – different ethnic/faith and age groups were at varying points on the ‘pathway’ to organ donor registration, with large numbers lacking knowledge and remaining at a pre-contemplation stage. Key attitudinal barriers were uncertainties regarding religious permissibility, bodily concerns, lack of trust in health professionals and little priority given to registration, with the varying significance of these factors varying by ethnicity/faith and age. National campaigns focusing on ethnic minorities have had limited impact, whereas characteristics of effective educational interventions are being conducted in a familiar environment; addressing the groups’ particular concerns; delivery by trained members of the lay community; and providing immediate access to registration. Interventions are also required to target those at specific stages of the donation pathway. Hospital studies: family consent to donation – many ICU staff, especially junior nurses, described a lack of confidence in communication and supporting ethnic minority families, often reflecting differences in emotional expression, faith and cultural beliefs, and language difficulties. The continuing high proportion of family donation discussions that take place without the collaboration of a specialist nurse for organ donation reflected consultants’ views of their own role in family consent to donation, a lack of trust in SNODs and uncertainties surrounding controlled donations after circulatory death. Hospital chaplains differed in their involvement in ICUs, reflecting their availability/employment status, personal interests and the practices of ICU staff. Evaluation: professional development package – a digital versatile disk-based training package was developed to promote confidence and skills in cross-cultural communication. Initial evaluation produced positive feedback and significant affirmative attitudinal change but no significant difference in consent rate over the short follow-up period with requirements for longer-term evaluation. Limitations: Participants in the focus group study were mainly first-generation migrants of manual socioeconomic groups. It was not permitted to identify non-consenting families for interview with data regarding the consent process were therefore limited to consenting families. Conclusions: The research presents guidance for the effective targeting of donation campaigns focusing on minority ethnic groups and provides the first training package in cultural competence in the NHS. Future work: Greater evaluation is required of community interventions in the UK to enhance knowledge of effective practice and analysis of the experiences of non-consenting ethnic minority families. Funding: The National Institute for Health Research Programme Grants for Applied Research programme.
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