Introduction: Brain death is one of the greatest crises experienced by families who are faced with the decision of organ donation. Families of brain dead patients are faced with many psychological problems. Thus, the experiences of intensive care unit (ICU) nurses regarding the psychosocial status of family members of organ donating patients were studied in the present study.
Method: This qualitative study was conducted through phenomenological approach. The study participants consisted of 8 nurses of ICUs in Kerman, Iran, who were selected through purposive sampling. Subjects were assured of confidentiality of data and were able to leave the study any time they wished. Data were collected through open and semi-structured in-depth interviews until data saturation was achieved. All interviews were recorded, transcribed verbatim, and analyzed using Colaizzi's method.
Results: Through analysis and integration of codes, 3 main codes and 13 secondary codes were extracted. The main code of unknowns consisted of the secondary codes of ambiguity, anxiety, unknowns, and the reaction of family members. The main code of understanding the family’s critical situation contained the secondary codes of fear of remorse, the chances of recovery, others’ lack of approval, and obsessive thoughts. Moreover, the main code of understanding the cultural, social, and religious aspects consisted of the secondary codes of altruism, religious beliefs, growing up in difficult circumstances, interests and expectations, and emotional relationships.
Conclusion: The psychological problems of families of brain dead patients can be managed through the elimination of the unknown, understanding the critical situation of the family, and understanding their cultural, social, and religious status. In this way, these difficult stages can be passed in greater psychological tranquility.