Research examines how blood drives motivate blood donation

Mar 02, 2010

There is typically a shortage of donated blood in the United States, and research at Case Western Reserve University is looking for ways of improving the life-saving supply.

Nicola Lacetera, assistant professor of economics at the university's Weatherhead School of Management, notes that about 38 percent of Americans are eligible to donate and only about 8 percent do. Many of those who donate a first time don't donate again, and there are some population segments which very rarely give blood.

So an important question nationally is: What is the proper incentive so that the rate of blood donation can increase?

"There is a big demand and supply is not keeping up," Lacetera said. "There is a vast population of people who could donate but don't. There is an extensive campaign by the American Red Cross and other organizations about blood shortages. So people do know about it."

The biggest draw tends to be a sense to do something good for humanity after a crisis that gets national attention, such as after terrorist attacks in the United States on Sept. 11, 2001, or the recent earthquakes in Chile and Haiti. But the need for blood supplies is large whether or not a disaster occurs.

"There is a general perception that you need blood for emergencies or an . Most of the blood needed every day is for chronic conditions, such as for patients. Therefore, blood is needed every day," Lacetera said.

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, through the National Science Foundation, is funding the collaborative research effort. Throughout this year, Lacetera's team is planning extensive data analysis involving over 14,000 blood drives in northern Ohio to assess whether the provision of incentives boosts donations.

"We are excited about the research being done by Case Western Reserve and feel the results will help our organization better understand how donors are motivated to give," said Brent Bertram, Red Cross director, donor recruitment, for the Northern Ohio region. "This knowledge will allow us to recruit donors more effectively and use our resources in the best way possible to meet the needs of local patients."

Lacetera said the collaboration with the is beneficial for his research and the social service agency.

"They believe this study might benefit them in understanding how to increase blood supply in a region like Northern Ohio, where it's particularly relevant because there are so many big hospitals."

Gifts of T-shirts, lapel pins, coupons or gift cards indeed could be an attraction, but do those motivate blood donors to return to future blood drives? And there are some who say gifts shouldn't be involved at all, because people motivated to donate might not want to feel they are rewarded for giving.

Lacetera says that in some countries, in particular Italy, blood donors are given a day off work for their generosity. That benefit is unlikely in American blood drives, but data shows that small gifts for donation do increase turnout at sites. But a question is whether the people donating blood are simply switching from another site to another and would have donated anyway, referred to as a substitution effect.

Explore further: Experts call for higher exam pass marks to close performance gap between international and UK medical graduates

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Southern California facing blood shortage

Sep 02, 2007

The American Red Cross Blood Services of Southern California is facing a potential year-long drought due to a lack of adults donating blood, experts say.

Blood ties -- younger generation more willing to donate blood

Oct 13, 2009

Youth may not bring wisdom but, according to a new study from Canada, it does bring generosity as young adults are found to be the most likely to donate blood. The research, published in BioMed Central's open access International Jo ...

Recommended for you

Obese British man in court fight for surgery

Jul 11, 2011

A British man weighing 22 stone (139 kilograms, 306 pounds) launched a court appeal Monday against a decision to refuse him state-funded obesity surgery because he is not fat enough.

2008 crisis spurred rise in suicides in Europe

Jul 08, 2011

The financial crisis that began to hit Europe in mid-2008 reversed a steady, years-long fall in suicides among people of working age, according to a letter published on Friday by The Lancet.

New food labels dished up to keep Europe healthy

Jul 06, 2011

A groundbreaking deal on compulsory new food labels Wednesday is set to give Europeans clear information on the nutritional and energy content of products, as well as country of origin.

Overweight men have poorer sperm count

Jul 04, 2011

Overweight or obese men, like their female counterparts, have a lower chance of becoming a parent, according to a comparison of sperm quality presented at a European fertility meeting Monday.

User comments : 0

More news stories

UAE reports 12 new cases of MERS

Health authorities in the United Arab Emirates have announced 12 new cases of infection by the MERS coronavirus, but insisted the patients would be cured within two weeks.

Filipino tests negative for Middle East virus

A Filipino nurse who tested positive for the Middle East virus has been found free of infection in a subsequent examination after he returned home, Philippine health officials said Saturday.

NASA's space station Robonaut finally getting legs

Robonaut, the first out-of-this-world humanoid, is finally getting its space legs. For three years, Robonaut has had to manage from the waist up. This new pair of legs means the experimental robot—now stuck ...

Ex-Apple chief plans mobile phone for India

Former Apple chief executive John Sculley, whose marketing skills helped bring the personal computer to desktops worldwide, says he plans to launch a mobile phone in India to exploit its still largely untapped ...