Context—Despite the lifesaving benefits of organ and tissue donation, a worldwide shortage of suitable and registered donors exists. Although the reasons for this shortage are multifactorial, it has been recognized that distinct barriers to registration, family discussion, and consent that require targeted intervention and action are present among minority cultural, religious, and immigrant communities.
Objective—To explore the knowledge, attitudes, and beliefs of 3 orthodox religious communities in Australia (Macedonian, Greek, and Serbian Orthodox) and determine the implications for engaging with these communities to improve knowledge, attitudes, family discussion, and the ability to make an informed decision about donation.
Design—Qualitative approach using focus groups moderated by researchers and bicultural health workers with the assistance of accredited interpreters.
Participants—98 adult members of the Greek, Macedonian, and Serbian Orthodox communities in the Illawarra region of New South Wales, Australia.
Results—Clear barriers to discussing and making an informed decision about organ and tissue donation were identified. Knowledge of processes and procedures was low and discussion about death (and organ and tissue donation) with family members and loved ones was considered taboo. Despite these barriers, all 3 communities expressed a desire for more information and engagement. Of particular interest were the perspectives of 3 types of "experts": medical, religious, and other community members (who had experience with the organ and tissue donation system). Future programs designed for orthodox religious communities should consider the need for active strategies that facilitate information sharing and engagement between community members and these 3 types of experts.