The Blood Donor Survey

Research program: 
Currently recruiting: 
The challenge: 

Maintaining a steady blood supply is vital for the Australian health system, which requires 33,000 blood donations every week. One in three Australians will require blood or blood products in their lifetime, and these transfusions depend entirely on voluntary, non-remunerated donors. With an ageing population, hospital demand at its highest in nearly a decade, and increased demand for blood and blood products, we need to ensure that Australia maintains a safe and secure blood supply. This project will help us understand what people know about the eligibility criteria, and what motivates or deters people from giving blood.

The project: 

This study will fill the major gaps in our knowledge of the proportion of people in the population who have characteristics, including behaviours, that may make them ineligible when they present to donate blood; the accuracy of people’s knowledge of their eligibility to donate; and the psychological factors that may underpin misperceptions of ineligibility. The information will be used to improve population-level education, and to encourage more people to donate blood. Furthermore, an accurate estimate of the prevalence of blood donation eligibility will enable Australian Red Cross Lifeblood to model the impact of future changes in eligibility criteria more accurately.

The method: 

We are conducting a nationwide survey amongst the general population in Australia to find out more about what people know about giving blood and factors that motivate or deter them. The survey will be delivered by the Social Research Centre, at the Australian National University (ANU). The study is being conducted by the Kirby Institute, in collaboration with Australian Red Cross Lifeblood and the University of Queensland, under an NHMRC Partnership Grant.

The impact: 

The findings of this survey will inform health communication practice and Lifeblood policy on the management of temporarily ineligible donors. Misperceptions of ineligibility (people believing that they are ineligible to donate when in fact they are eligible) can be addressed through population-level education and marketing to encourage those who are eligible to donate. Misperceptions of eligibility (people believing they are eligible to donate when they are not) are also a problem, because when people present to donate blood and are postponed (i.e., they are ineligible on the day but are asked to return after a specified date), they are less likely to return when they become eligible. This can be addressed through improved educational and screening measures, to ensure that donors are not postponed when they present to donate. These changes have the potential to increase the donor pool in Australia, ensuring the ongoing availability of appropriate blood products as needed by the health system.

Project contact: 
Clinical Project Coordinator
Project supporters: 
  • National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC)
Project collaborators: 
  • Australian Red Cross Lifeblood
  • The University of Queensland