UK statistics show that whilst waiting lists for transplantation surgery continue to increase, donor numbers are static. This paper describes the hermeneutic phase of a mixed method study and puts forward the concept of protection behaviour as one explanation for nurses’ reticence to discuss post-mortem donation wishes with patients’ relatives. The desire to protect appears to influence attitudes, confidence levels and perceived ability to become involved in donor identification and donation discussion, consequently affecting the availability of transplantable organs and tissue. By understanding more fully why protective behaviours are employed, it increases the likelihood of a solution being found.
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