Applying Grounded Theory to Understand Asian Women’s Motivations to Donate Healthy Breast Tissue


  • Cynthia Wu Indiana University School of Medicine
  • Katherine E. Ridley-Merriweather Indiana University Melvin and Bren Simon Comprehensive Cancer Center, Susan G. Komen Tissue Bank
  • Anna Maria V. Storniolo, MD Susan G. Komen Tissue Bank, Indiana University Melvin and Bren Simon Comprehensive Cancer Center; Division of Hematology and Oncology, Department of Medicine, Indiana University School of Medicine



Background: The Komen Tissue Bank (KTB) is a clinical trial and the only global biorepository that collects and stores healthy breast tissue to be used as controls in breast cancer (BC) research. Due to a variety of barriers, there is a lack of participation by racial and ethnic minority women in tissue donation. In order to increase this participation, it is necessary to understand why or why not these populations choose to participate in clinical trials such as the KTB. This study used grounded theory methodology to explore the motivations behind Asian women’s decisions to donate their breast tissue. 

Methods: Guided by grounded theory, we conducted interviews with previous breast tissue donors who self-identified as Asian (n=20). We then transcribed and coded the interviews to discover common attitudes and motivations for participating in breast tissue donation. 

Findings: Preliminary findings were obtained from 11 interviews. We identified three common themes that influenced these women’s donations: altruistic behavior, comfort with science, and Asian identity. Identified sub-themes include factors such as personal ties to BC and background in research and clinical trials. It is of note that over half of the women expressed Asian identity and comfort with science as important factors, and all mentioned altruistic tendencies, either towards family or towards research and others.

Conclusion and Future Work: We identified common factors for donating healthy breast tissue from using grounded theory to interview previous donors of Asian descent. We will transcribe and code 9 more interviews, as well as use those interviews to confirm theoretical saturation. The findings from this study will be used in the future to inform a framework for developing recruitment strategies to increase overall participation of historically excluded individuals in the KTB. Future work will include exploring the motivations of Latinas regarding donating their healthy breast tissue.