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Clin Anat. 2004 Oct;17(7):570-7.

Whole body donation for medical science: a population-based study.

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Department of Medicine, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland, USA.


Although cadaveric whole-body donation for the purposes of medical science is extremely important for medical education, the number of persons who choose to donate remains low. We assessed persons' willingness to consider whole body donation in a standardized telephone survey of Maryland households, identified using random digit dialing. In multivariable analyses, we assessed the independent relation of sociodemographics and attitudinal factors to willingness to consider donation, and we determined the amount of variation in willingness to consider donation among the study population that could be explained by these factors. Of 385 participants (84% of randomized homes), 49% reported they would consider whole body donation. In bivariate analysis, younger age, African-American race/ethnicity, less education and income, greater number of dependents, marital status, and attitudes about religion/spirituality, trust in hospitals, and income, gender, and racial/ethnic discrimination in hospitals were statistically significantly associated with 40-70% less odds of willingness to consider donation. After adjustment, persons of African-American race/ethnicity, less education, and those agreeing with the statements, "Rich patients receive better care at hospitals than poor patients," and "White patients receive better care at hospitals than other racial or ethnic groups," had 40-60% less odds of willingness to consider donation when compared to their counterparts. Respondents' race/ethnicity and education contributed most to willingness to consider donation. We conclude that demographic and attitudinal factors are strongly related to willingness to consider whole body donation. Efforts to enhance donation should seek to identify ways in which potential barriers to donation can be addressed by health professionals.

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