According to physicians, the reasons for the low number of organ donation discussions include: the lack of formal training in organ donation, with only 17 percent of physicians receiving such training; and the lack of staff to address organ donation issues with patients, as reported by 64 percent of physicians.
A small percentage of doctors reported having donor information available in their medical offices (11 percent), with even fewer having donor cards available (5 percent).
For this nationally representative study, 831 family and internal medicine physicians were surveyed. Hispanic and African-American primary care physicians were oversampled to determine how frequently they discussed donation with their patients and what factors encouraged or inhibited such discussions. Race and ethnicity of primary care physicians may play an important role in improving organ donation, particularly among minorities. African-American and Hispanic physicians are likely to care for patients of similar race and ethnicities.
Primary care physicians who had received organ donation education or who regularly discussed end-of-life issues with their patients were more likely to talk about organ donation issues, according to the study.
As of January 6, 2010, there were 105,307 people waiting for organ transplants, according to the United Network for Organ Sharing. People of color are disproportionately in need of donated organs, making up more than 50 percent of those waiting for a donation. African Americans, who comprise only 15 percent of the U.S population, represent more than 25 percent of those on organ
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