Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




Organ transplantation holds the promise of new life or better life for thousands of Americans every year. Transplantation involves a process that stretches over time beginning at referral, moving to transplantation and long term care. The transplant coordinator is considered an integral part of this care. Transplant coordinators are considered so important to the care of these patients that transplant centers are required to have at least one transplant coordinator by federal regulations.

The role of the transplant coordinator, however, is not well defined. Although many of the role dimensions attributed to transplant coordinators are consistent with nursing practice, the role has not been clearly identified as being exclusively within the domain of nursing. Research regarding the role is scarce, particularly research identifying the value of the role in promoting patient outcomes. Most glaringly absent are reports of the patients’ experience with transplant coordinators and their expectations of the coordinator. This gap in knowledge effectively silences the voice of the patient in defining the role and limits the ability to define the role using a patient-centered approach.

Twelve kidney transplant recipients who received transplants at eight different transplant centers were interviewed. The participants were interviewed about their experiences and interactions with transplant coordinators. The data from these interviews were conceptualized as a Basic Social Process. Using classic grounded theory methodology, the data from these interviews were analyzed. The resultant theory was Easing My Burden. The theory explains that, for the participants, end stage renal disease represented a Basic Social Psychological Problem. The Basic Social Process between the patient and the transplant coordinators, if successful, resulted in the development of a trusting relationship which in turn, eased the patient’s psychological burden of end-stage renal failure.

Findings of this study offer previously unpublished insight into the relationship between transplant recipients and their transplant coordinators. The results are useful in public policy, nursing practice, and management as well as suggesting future research.

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