Disparities in healthcare between races exist in the United States. A new study published in the journal Transfusion explores why African Americans donate blood at lower rates than whites. The findings reveal 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. Fifteen African American churches in metropolitan Atlanta participated in an 81-item self-administered survey, with 930 people responding to the survey.
The study’s results demonstrate that about 1 in 5 African American individuals (17 percent) 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.
“Blood centers and hospitals need to build trust with the African American community,” Shaz notes. “Increased trust will result in increased blood donor rates, increased participation in research, and increased medical knowledge.”