Racial Disparities in Medical Crowdfunding: The Role of Sharing Disparity and Humanizing Narratives

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Americans have increasingly turned to online crowdfunding to pay for healthcare costs, but our understanding of the inequalities in medical crowdfunding remains limited. This study investigates racial disparities in medical crowdfunding outcomes and examines the role of communication in amplifying, altering, or even reducing the disparities. Using data from 1,127 medical crowdfunding campaigns on GoFundMe, the study found that beneficiaries of color received significantly fewer donations than their White counterparts. The differences in donations between racial groups were partly attributable to sharing disparities. Campaigns for beneficiaries of color were shared less via e-mail or social media than campaigns for White beneficiaries. Campaign narratives with more humanizing details about beneficiaries were associated with more donations. However, humanizing details did not predict more shares, nor were they linked to smaller disparities in campaign outcomes between racial groups. Post-hoc analyses showed that more humanizing details were linked to fewer campaign donations for male beneficiaries of color. The findings contribute to the scholarship addressing the intersections of communication and health inequality on digital platforms.

Original languageEnglish
JournalHealth Communication
StateAccepted/In press - 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2024 Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Communication


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