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Disparities/Minority Health

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Blacks are more distrustful of equity in the organ donor system and favor providing benefits to donor families

Blacks are more likely than whites to develop end-stage kidney disease due to diabetes and other medical problems, yet they are less likely than whites to receive a kidney transplant and wait longer for transplantation. A new study finds that blacks are more distrustful than whites of the equity of the organ donation system and are more in favor of providing tangible benefits to donor families. A telephone survey of 1,283 adults in Ohio asked them whether they had signed a donor card and were willing to donate their own or a loved one's organs.

Fewer blacks than whites had signed a donor card (39 vs. 65 percent) and were willing to donate their own organs (73 vs. 88 percent) or a loved one's organs (53 vs. 66 percent). Blacks also had lower scores on the Trust in the Health Care System scales (mean score of 9.43 vs. 9.93). They were more likely to agree that "if doctors know I am an organ donor, they won't try to save my life" (39 vs. 26 percent) and that the rich or famous are more likely to get a transplant (82 vs. 76 percent). Blacks were less likely than whites to agree that doctors can be trusted to pronounce death (68 vs. 83 percent). Blacks were also more likely to agree that families should receive money for donating organs (46 vs. 28 percent) and funeral expenses (63 vs. 47 percent).

Although blacks were not as positive about organ donation as whites, the majority stated that they would be willing to donate an organ. This is in contrast to real donor rates that hover around 30 percent. A second finding of note is the pervasive distrust of the health care system, including its inequity. Until some of these issues are addressed, the rates of organ donation among blacks may continue to be low, caution Laura A. Siminoff, Ph.D., of Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, and colleagues. Their study was supported in part by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (HS10047).

See "Racial disparities in preferences and perceptions regarding organ donation," by Dr. Siminoff, Christopher J. Burant, M.A.C.T.N., M.A., and Said A. Ibrahim, M.D., M.P.H., in the August 2006 Journal of General Internal Medicine 21, pp. 995-1000.

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