Studying Burnout and Resilience in Organ and Tissue Donation Coordinators (The BRiC Study)

Organ and tissue donation coordinators face challenging and stressful scenarios on a daily basis. This work often leads to burnout, attrition, and compassion fatigue. Research on turnover rates among these healthcare workers has shown that job tenure for coordinators was less than  three years, a possible consequence of burnout. Consequently, turnover rates may have a significant impact on the ability of organ donation organizations to optimize donation in their programs.

Little is known about the true extent of burnout and compassion fatigue among organ donation coordinators worldwide. Very little is known about how it may impact coordinators in Canada. Though an easy short-term fix may be to hire and train new coordinators, this project proposes innovative ways of dealing with burnout, to identify its causes and intervene to support teams and avoid losing experienced and exceptional people.

The Burnout and Resilience in Organ Donor Coordinators (BRiC) study is led by Canadian Blood Services and CHEO Research Institute, in collaboration with Canada's organ and tissue donation community. 

If you would like to know more and potentially collaborate with this study, please contact our research team at or 

About the BRIC Study

The BRIC study is a three-phase study focused on burnout and resilience in coordinators. Through BRIC we are taking a systematic approach to understand and intervene in the issue of burnout among organ and tissue donor coordinators in Canada. BRiC was initially planned as a three-phase study focused on systematically investigating ways to minimize the impacts of compassion fatigue, burnout, and moral distress, and to identify ways to increase resilience. BRiC is the core project, with additional projects developed as the need for further exploration of particular aspects of the work-related issues were identified.

BRiC Phase I  – Scoping review milestones

  • May 2020 – The scoping review to identify what is known about burnout and compassion fatigue among OTDCs worldwide was completed and submitted for publication at BMJ Open
  • November 2020 – Following review and revisions, the scoping review was accepted for publication by BMJ Open, and is currently in press
  • December 2020 - Scoping review published in BMJ Open

Burnout, compassion fatigue and work-related stressors among organ donation and transplantation coordinators: A qualitative study  VanessaSilva eSilva, LauraHornby, KenLotherington, AndreaRochon, AminaRegina, Hilary Pearson, Linda MacNutt, Adrian Robertson, KimWerestiuk, DavidKuhl, PeggyJohn, Sonny Dhanani, AimeeSarti

Burnout and compassion fatigue among organ and tissue donation coordinators: a scoping review. Silva E Silva V, Hornby L, Almost J, Lotherington K, Appleby A, Silva AR, Rochon A, Dhanani S.BMJ Open. 2020 Dec 15;10(12):e040783. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2020-040783.PMID: 33323439

Burnout and compassion fatigue among organ donation coordinators: a scoping review protocol. Silva E Silva V, Hornby L, Almost J, Lotherington K, Appleby A, Dhanani S.JBI Evid Synth. 2020 Nov;18(11):2435-2442. doi: 10.11124/JBISRIR-D-19-00256.PMID: 32813418

BRIC STUDY - BURNOUT AND RESILIENCY LEVELS AMONG ORGAN DONATION COORDINATORS: RESEARCH PROTOCOL Transplantation: September 2020 - Volume 104 - Issue S3 - p S275-S276 doi: 10.1097/

BRiC Phase II – Mixed-methods study

Objectives: We are developing a mixed-method study (online quantitative survey followed by qualitative interviews) to explore burnout and compassion fatigue among OTDCs and further understand their perceptions about these work-related issues. Due to the current pandemic, organ donation services were affected and many OTDCs were deployed to work in other clinical areas, including ICUs caring for patients diagnosed with COVID-19. The results from this study will inform the development of phase III of the BRiC study, an intervention to address the key issues and concerns identified in this population. Therefore, we believe it will be important to explore the impact that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on their work and stressors.


  • Appropriate validated survey tools have been identified, and the CBS team will begin work on developing the survey for this study, so we can pilot it
  • Research proposal updated and ready for submission to REB
  • Semi-structured interview questions have been developed
  • As we develop the qualitative portion of the study, we will consult with the ODOs to determine the best approach for conducting interviews with the OTDCs

BRiC Phase III - Interventional study

Status: In development

Additional projects related to BRiC

Workshop evaluation
Overview: A qualitative study to evaluate a workshop conducted in a western Canadian province in spring 2019 that focused on team cohesion and communication among OTDCs. Semi-structured interviews were conducted through Zoom in March 2020 to explore the role of the OTDC, the OTDC experience of participating in the workshop, and the impact on team dynamics and cohesion.

Status: This study generated data for two manuscripts, one focused on the OTDCs perception of burnout and compassion fatigue (ready for submission), and a second manuscript focused on the OTDCs perception of a workshop about team cohesion and communication (being finalized for publication at the Intensive and Critical Care Nursing Journal).

Working meeting
Overview: During the working meeting held in Ottawa, Ontario in February 2020, we had the pleasure of hosting a day of deep and meaningful discussions about the topics of burnout and compassion fatigue among OTDCs and the BRiC study. OTDCs and administrators from five Canadian ODOs attended the meeting. Two focus group sessions were held during the working meeting to (1) discuss the relevance of the topics for ODOs/OTDCS and common challenges faced by OTDCs; and (2) discuss and identify the best approaches for BRiC phases 2 (data collection) and 3 (intervention).


  • We generated a report about the content of the meeting and high-level themes from the discussion that occurred. The written report is being shared with the Canadian ODOs in addition to virtual presentations
  • We will also analyze the data recorded from the focus groups to share the information with the scientific community in a manuscript that will be written for publication (plan to submit to the Canadian Journal of Nursing Leadership)

Quality improvement initiative evaluation 

Objective: A qualitative study to evaluate an intervention implemented in a western province of Canada on team cohesion and communication among organ and tissue donation coordinators and if there were any perceived changes in the level of burnout/resilience.
Status: The study received all approvals, and we anticipate the finished work to be ready to publish by July 2020.  

Reflective narrative paper

Overview: An opinion paper was written in collaboration with OTDCs from 5 Canadian provinces and international subject matter experts. Canadian OTDCs voiced their concerns and experiences about work-related issues such as burnout. After receiving feedback about the format of the paper, it was re-shaped and refined into a reflective narrative.

Status: The paper is ready for submission and we are finalizing details to submit to the Canadian Journal of Critical Care Nursing.

Conference Presentations

Overview: As a research group, one of our core principles is to share our findings to provide evidence to support advancements in the organ donation and transplantation community and knowledge users. This year, we had the opportunity and pleasure to present the work of the BRiC study at various conferences, as well as to ODOs and OTDCs.


  • 2 poster presentations at the TTS 2020 Virtual Conference (the BRiC research protocol and the scoping review)
  • Invited speaker to the burnout panel at the International Transplant Nurses Society (ITNS) Virtual Annual Meeting
  • Invited speaker at the Canadian Association of Critical Care Nurses (CACCN) Dynamics 2020 Online
  • Invited speaker at the Canadian Society of Transplantation’s Fall Virtual Forum
  • Working meeting report presentation to BC and ON, recorded and shared with other ODOs that attended the meeting
  • Presentation of BRiC progress and preliminary results at the Donor Coordinator Network webinar

Core research team

Project updates