Risk disclosure on egg donor recruitment advertisements: Current practices & the effect on women's willingness to become an egg donor
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Egg donation has proven to be a valuable tool in addressing the health issues with infertility. Given the importance of egg donation, it is essential that the procedures related to recruitment, treatment, and compensation of egg donors continue to monitored and evaluated. This dissertation considers the question of risk disclosure at the earliest stage of the egg donor recruitment process: in recruitment advertisements. My research examines whether the recruitment advertisements are the appropriate time in the recruitment process to disclose possible risks of egg donation. Specifically, what, if any, risk disclosures should be included in the recruitment advertisements to ensure that the potential donor understands and considers the risks at the time she decides whether to proceed. There are two parts to my analysis that aim to address this question. The first part assesses risk disclosure rates in egg donor recruitment advertisements collected online. The results show that risk disclosure in egg donor advertisements is rare. The risk disclosure rates are compared between entities subject to the ASRM self-regulatory guidelines and those that are not (i.e. clinics vs. agencies) and between advertisements placed inside of California (i.e. subject to the California state law) and those placed outside of California (i.e. not subject to the California state law). The results suggest that neither the current ASRM self-regulations nor the formal regulations implemented in California were successful in addressing the low risk disclosure rates. The second part of the analysis is a survey administered to current or recent female graduate students attending one of three Georgia universities to provide insight on the effects of disclosing various levels of risk at the earliest stage of the recruitment process. The survey results show that the inclusion of risk at the advertisement level can have a significant association with a woman’s willingness to engage in the donation process. The survey also provided a means of examining how compensation influences the donor’s evaluation of associated risks listed on an advertisement and the interaction between compensation and risk disclosure. The hypothetical response analysis, in particular shows how potential egg donors are at risk of being unduly influenced when they are financially vulnerable. The results from my research have policy implications in several areas related to the recruitment, treatment and compensation of egg donors. The results are discussed in relation to the ethical and policy issues of egg donation and provide insight into how the discussions or the development of oversight can protect the needs of patients struggling with infertility and the safety and autonomy of egg donors.