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J Natl Med Assoc. 2007 Feb;99(2):131-7.

Assessing racial and ethnic differences in medical student knowledge, attitudes and behaviors regarding organ donation.

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  • 1Case Western Reserve University (Edwards), Cleveland, OH, USA.



Previous studies have demonstrated that informed healthcare providers could increase patient willingness to donate. We assessed medical students' knowledge and attitudes to determine their preparedness to encourage organ donation.


500 first- and second-year students attending one of three Ohio medical schools completed the 41-item questionnaire (93% cooperation rate). The questions evaluated students' donation knowledge, training, exposure and perceived barriers as well as their willingness to donate.


On univariate analysis, Asians (OR: 0.5, 95% CI: 0.2-0.9) and blacks (OR: 0.1, 95% CI: 0.1-0.2) were less willing than whites to donate. On multivariate analysis, race was no longer significantly associated with willingness to donate,Three factors were associated with a decreased donation willingness: wanting burial with organs intact (OR: 0.1, 95%CI: 0.1-0.2), having personal conflicts with donation (OR: 0.2, 95%Cl: 0.1-0.6), and concern that carrying a donor card will lead to insufficient medical care (OR: 0.2, 95% Cl: 0.1-0.4). Of note, knowledge was not associated with willingness to donate.


In this medical student cohort, minorities were less willing to donate. Three factors were associated with a decreased willingness to donate regardless of student race. Addressing these barriers may increase student donation willingness, and physicians should encourage donation discussions with their patients.

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