Understanding the current and future contribution of psychology to blood donor recruitment

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Understanding our future donors is of importance to blood collection agencies (BCAs) worldwide. For effective panel management, we need to know both who they are and also why they do or do not engage in blood (product) donation. The recent surge in psychological research into blood donation has provided significant insight into understanding the psychological factors underpinning the commencement of blood donation, that is, answering the why questions. This review will summarize our current understanding of the psychology of blood donor recruitment while outlining the complexities that may lie ahead. From the systematic application of various psychological theories to blood donation, certain psychological elements (e.g. self-efficacy) have emerged as key determinants of donor recruitment. Drawing on this, research psychologists have worked with BCAs to develop and evaluate recruitment materials designed to target these constructs. Both laboratory and in-field trials have consistently shown positive effects in recruiting new donors. This collaboration of researchers and BCAs has furthered understanding and recruitment efficacy generating measurable, operational deliverables. However, such collaborative research also highlights the challenges that lie ahead both in terms of the diversity of nondonors as well as the limitations of current theoretical models. Further, there is an increasing need for large-scale randomized controlled field trials to systematically evaluate interventions designed on the basis of psychological research. Although such trials provide substantial challenges, the promise of psychology in providing the ‘who’ and ‘how’ to successfully recruit donor panel members efficiently is great.

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