University of Pittsburgh Study Examines Racial Differences in Bone Marrow Donorship Decisions
On this edition of In Black America, producer/host John L. Hanson Jr. speaks with Dr. Galen E. Switzer, Professor of Medicine and Psychiatry Co-Chief, Measurement Core, VA Center for Health Equity Research and Promotion, The University of Pittsburgh. Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine conducted a study to learn why African Americans and other minorities opt-out of bone marrow transplant registries at rates far higher than whites. The study, published in Blood, the journal of the American Society of Hematology, examined donors’ decisions to commit to hematopoietic stem cell (HSC) donation or opt-out of a registry after being identified as a potential match for a patient they did not know.
According to data from the National Marrow Donor Program (NMDP), the largest registry of unrelated HSC volunteer donors in the world, approximately 60 percent of potential minority donors who register opt out before donation, compared with 40 percent of whites. Whites have a 79 percent chance of finding a donor match, compared with a 33 percent chance for African-Americans.
Switzer and his colleagues found that four factors contributed to the high rate of registry dropouts among minorities: As compared to whites, minorities reported more religious objections to donation, less trust that HSCs would be allocated equitably, more concerns about donation, and a greater likelihood of having been discouraged from donating.