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Open Access Research article

Understanding non-return after a temporary deferral from giving blood: a qualitative study

Tessa L Hillgrove1*, Kathleen V Doherty23 and Vivienne M Moore1

Author affiliations

1 Discipline of Public Health, University of Adelaide, Adelaide, South Australia

2 Australian Red Cross Blood Service, Adelaide, South Australia

3 University of Tasmania, Hobart, Tasmania

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Citation and License

BMC Public Health 2012, 12:1063  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-12-1063

Published: 10 December 2012

Abstract

Background

The reasons why deferral from blood donation reduces the likelihood of future return remain unclear. This aim of this study was to investigate possible reasons why deferral has such a dramatic impact on donation patterns.

Methods

Qualitative methods were used to explore donors’ motivations to give blood, their experiences of temporary deferral, and their intentions to return once eligible. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 23 donors in the two weeks following a temporary deferral due to a low haemoglobin concentration. The Framework approach was used to analyse data and identify themes associated with prompt return, ascertained from Blood Service records.

Results

We found that, predominantly, individuals give blood because it represents an easy and convenient way to help others, and provides personal rewards, such as enhancing positive self-concepts and valuable knowledge about health. Deferral disrupts the habit of regular donation, and additionally, introduces an element of practical and emotional hassle to what is generally seen as an undemanding activity. Return after deferral was related to four aspects of a person and their context: an individual’s other obligations, especially parenting; whether donation arrangements were facilitated by a range of supports; the presence of a strong “blood donor” identity; and whether deferral left the donor feeling valued and appreciated.

Conclusions

Aspects of the deferral process need to be improved to ensure individuals feel valued, and continued attention should be given to the convenience of donation, especially for those with competing obligations.