Changing attitudes to blood donation : a modified focus group approach (an investigation in two countries with volunteer blood donor systems - England and Australia).
The aim of this research was to examine knowledge of, and attitudes to, blood, blood
donation, blood processing and the uses of donated blood and the effect of
information- giving on these attitudes. The research was conducted in Australia and
England; both countries rely on volunteer blood donors and the blood transfusion
services are undergoing major organisational change. Data were collected through a
modified focus group interview format. After a guided group discussion on blood
donation, participants were presented with information about the donation process, the
processing of blood and the many blood products. They were then asked what
influence, if any, this had on their intention to donate blood.
Donors, non-donors and lapsed donors were interviewed. Ten modified focus groups
and one control focus group (where no information was given) were conducted in
London (n'= 39, n=4 respectively); and five modified focus groups were conducted in
Melbourne (n= 30). All but one group of English participants were contacted six
months after participating in the interview to establish whether they had carried out
their stated behavioural intentions.
The Theory of Reasoned Action, which has regularly been used in research on blood
donation, was found to be feasible but too simplistic in explaining or predicting
behaviour. It was found that while information-giving has little effect on non-donors'
intention to donate, lapsed donors may be encouraged to return to blood donation by
information which emphasises the many uses of donated blood and which reassures
them there is no risk of viral contamination from the act of donating. The data
indicates that current donors are more likely to maintain a regular commitment when
presented with similar information.
Furthermore it was found that, whilst altruistic reasoning still plays a part in blood
donation behaviour, donor motivations are more complex and founded on more
individualistic reasoning, with issues of self-esteem and social approval taking a more
dominant role. Additionally, more than a decade after the identification of HIV, the fear
of contracting HIV/AIDS is still a deterrent, and one which seems to be underestimated
by the blood transfusion services