Journal of General Internal Medicine

, Volume 21, Issue 9, pp 995–1000 | Cite as

Racial disparities in preferences and perceptions regarding organ donation

  • Laura A. SiminoffEmail author
  • Christopher J. Burant
  • Said A. Ibrahim
Populations At Risk


OBJECTIVES: To identify reasons for lower organ donation rates by African Americans, we examined knowledge and attitudes about brain death, donation, and transplantation and trust in the health care system.

METHODS: Data were collected from 1,283 subjects in Ohio using a random digit dial telephone survey. Items were developed based on focus group results. Willingness-to-donate indicators included a signed donor card and willingness to donate one’s own and a loved one’s organs.

RESULTS: Compared with whites, African-Americans had lower rates of signing a donor card (39.1% vs 64.9%,P<.001), and willingness to donate their own organs (72.6% vs 88.3%,P<.001) or a loved one’s organs (53.0% vs 66.2%,P<.001). African Americans had lower scores on the Trust in the Health Care System scale (mean scores ± SD, 9.43 ± 3.05 vs 9.93 ± 2.88,P<.01) and were more likely to agree that “if doctors know I am an organ donor, they won’t try to save my life” (38.6% vs 25.9%,P<.001), the rich or famous are more likely to get a transplant (81.9% vs 75.7%,P<.05), and less likely to agree that doctors can be trusted to pronounce death (68.2% vs 82.9,P<.001). African Americans were also more likely to agree that families should receive money for donating organs (45.6% vs 28.0%,P<.001) and funeral expenses (63.1% vs 46.6%,P<.001).

CONCLUSIONS: African Americans reported greater mistrust in the equity of the donation system and were more favorable about providing tangible benefits to donor families than white respondents.

Key Words

decision making disparities minorities organ donation attitudes African Americans 


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Copyright information

© Society of General Internal Medicine 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Laura A. Siminoff
    • 1
    Email author
  • Christopher J. Burant
    • 1
  • Said A. Ibrahim
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Bioethics (TA-215)Case Western Reserve University, School of MedicineCleveland
  2. 2.Center for Health Equity Research and PromotionUniversity of Pittsburgh, VA Pittsburgh Healthcare SystemPittsburghUSA

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