Journal of Religion and Health

, Volume 50, Issue 3, pp 743–759 | Cite as

Organ Procurement and Health Care Chaplaincy in Australia

  • Lindsay B. Carey
  • Priscilla Robinson
  • Jeffrey Cohen
Original paper


As part of an Australian national project, quantitative data via a survey were retrospectively obtained from 327 Australian health care chaplains (staff and volunteer chaplains) to initially identify chaplaincy participation in various bioethical issues—including organ procurement. Over a third of surveyed staff chaplains (38%) and almost a fifth of volunteer chaplains (19.2%) indicted that they had, in some way, been involved in organ procurement issues with patients and/or their families. Nearly one-fifth of staff chaplains (19%) and 12% of volunteer chaplains had also assisted clinical staff concerning various organ procurement issues. One hundred of the surveyed chaplains volunteered to an interview. Qualitative data were subsequently coded from 42 of the chaplains who had been involved in organ procurement requests. These data were thematically coded using the World Health Organization ‘Pastoral Intervention Codings’ (WHO-PICs). The qualitative data revealed that through a variety of pastoral interventions a number of chaplains (the majority being staff chaplains) were engaged in the critical and sensitive issues of organ procurement. It is argued that while such involvement can help to ensure a holistic and ethically appropriate practice, it is suggested that chaplains could be better utilized not only in the organ procurement process but also for the training of other chaplains and clinicians.


Organ transplants Organ procurement Chaplains Pastoral care Pastoral medicine 



Appreciation is given to the School of Public Health, La Trobe University (Victoria, Australia), the ‘Wagstaff Bequest,’ Ormond College, University of Melbourne (Victoria, Australia), the ‘Australian Health & Welfare Chaplains Association Incorporated,’ the School of Public Health & Community Medicine, University of New South Wales (Australia) and the ‘Love to the World Scholarship’ (New South Wales, Australia). We are also indebted to the contribution of Rev. Dr. Christopher Newell, AM, Ph.D. (former Assoc. Prof. School of Medicine, University of Tasmania).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lindsay B. Carey
    • 1
  • Priscilla Robinson
    • 2
  • Jeffrey Cohen
    • 3
  1. 1.Palliative Care Unit, School of Public HealthLa Trobe UniversityMelbourneAustralia
  2. 2.School of Public HealthLa Trobe UniversityMelbourneAustralia
  3. 3.School of Public Health & Community MedicineUniversity of New South WalesSydneyAustralia

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