Edgework emotion management: A constructivist grounded theory of organ donation nurses’ experiences and practices

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Aims and Objectives
To explore nurses’ experiences when approaching families for organ donation authorisation to guide nursing practice.

Organ donation after brainstem death implies that bereaved families are approached to discuss organ donation authorisation, and in many countries, specialist nurses do this approach. The literature describes the social, psychological and emotional challenges of health professionals in this role. However, lack of conceptual clarity regarding nurses’ experiences on approaching families to guide nursing practice was found.

Constructivist grounded theory.

Between October 2017 and July 2019, seven months of observations were conducted across two large public hospitals in Chile. Field notes, documents (n = 80), interviews (n = 27) and focus groups (n = 14) with 71 participants (51 healthcare professionals and 20 bereaved families) were included. Data collection and analysis followed the principles and practices of Charmaz’ constructivist grounded theory. The COREQ checklist was followed in reporting the study.

Edgework emotion management of organ donation nurses was developed as a threefold process: 1) being present to recognise inner and family emotions, 2) being on an emotional edge when approaching families and 3) extending the emotional edge to make sense of their experiences. The grounded theory was conceptualised using edgework emotion management by Lois (2003), which allowed to elucidate organ donation nurses’ experiences and practices on managing their emotions.

Organ donation nurses develop a sophisticated and complex emotional regulation process to approach and care for families when negotiating organ donation authorisation for transplantation.

Relevance to Clinical Practice
The experiences of specialist organ donation nurses entail a sophisticated emotion management process, which may explain the complexities of a critical role within healthcare institutions. Findings can be locally and internationally used to understand, educate and guide nursing practice, in an area of increasing specialisation and staffing shortages such as organ donation and transplantation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3510-3522
JournalJournal of Clinical Nursing
Issue number23-24
Early online date20 Dec 2021
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2022

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • clinical nurse specialist
  • emotional aspects
  • end-of-life care
  • grounded theory
  • nurse
  • nursing theory
  • theory-practice gap
  • transplantation


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