As reported previously by Word on Health, racial disparities in healthcare are rife in the United States. Even though most of these show that ethnic minorities have poorer outcomes, we were surprised by a newly published study in Transfusion that explored why African Americans donate blood at lower rates than whites.
The findings revealed that there is a significant distrust in the healthcare system among the African American community, and African Americans who distrust hospitals are less likely to donate.
Led by Beth H. Shaz, MD, Chief Medical Officer of the New York Blood Center in New York, New York, researchers created a survey to explore reasons for low likelihood of blood donation in African Americans. 930 people from 15 African American churches in metropolitan Atlanta participated the survey.
The most frequent reported motivators were:
- donating to help save a life (96%)
- donating because blood is needed (95%)
…while the most frequent barriers were that they rarely think about it and they were afraid, nervous, or anxious to give blood (35%). The association of barriers with donation status, age, gender, and education level was stronger than for motivators.
The study’s results also showed that about 1 in 5 African Americans (17 %) do not trust hospitals. This lack of trust was positively correlated with not donating blood even compared against other risk factors. Lack of trust in hospitals was also associated with not wanting to participate in research and less knowledge about the blood supply.
Respondents who did trust hospitals had more knowledge of the blood supply, less fear of donation, and were more likely to respond to blood needs of the community.
Clearly, blood centers and hospitals need to build trust with the African American community. SRxA’s transfusion medicine experts can help.
Contact us today to learn how.