- 1Department of Pharmaceutical Health Services Research, University of Maryland School of Pharmacy, 220 Arch Street, 12th Floor, Room 224, Baltimore, MD, 21201, USA. firstname.lastname@example.org.
- 2University of Maryland School of Pharmacy, Baltimore, MD, USA.
- 3University of Maryland Graduate School, Baltimore, MD, USA.
Background: Successful medical crowdfunding campaigns may alleviate or even eliminate the financial burden of expensive, cumulative medical bills. GoFundMe® crowdfunding pages for hepatitis C virus (HCV) patients were reviewed and analyzed to better understand the characteristics that contribute to a successful fundraising campaign in a disease often associated with patients with a lower social standing or stigma.
Methods: A pilot cross-sectional study of all publicly available GoFundMe® crowdfunding pages was conducted for posts related to HCV on GoFundMe® in June 2019. Similar to data extraction steps in a systematic literature review, page data were reviewed to identify whether the source of the patient's HCV infection was disclosed, if disclosed then how did the patient report contracting the disease, and all costs reported in the description as part of the rationale for requesting funds. Descriptive statistics of category and numeric variables were reported for the full sample, and exploratory analyses were conducted to determine any potential associations with categorical variables and the amount of donations received, categorized as small (< US$1000), moderate (US$1000-4999), and large (≥ US$5000).
Results: A total of 685 unique GoFundMe® pages were included in the analysis. Only 30% (206/685) of the pages disclosed the source of HCV infection. Of those that disclosed a virus source, 86% (177/206) described a source that appeared more socially desirable to our research team (blood transfusion, organ transplant, occupational exposure, etc.). In terms of actual donations received by a page, 46% (312/685) were less than US$1000, 38% (262/685) were between US$1000 and US$4999, and 16% (111/685) were US$5000 or more. Disclosing the virus source was associated with a higher donation category (p = 0.0099).
Conclusion: These exploratory findings yield important insights, both for patients or caregivers seeking support on GoFundMe® crowdfunding websites and for researchers interested in exploring the types of costs self-reported by patients in their public requests for financial assistance.