Background and objectives: The aim of the study was to investigate motives for donating blood as well as difficulties and obstacles associated with blood donation as perceived by the donors themselves.
Materials and methods: Six hundred consecutive blood donors (i.e. all blood donors with a history of at least one previous whole blood donation attending, during nine working days, the Blood Centre of Umeå University Hospital) received a self-administered questionnaire that contained questions aimed at elucidating motives for donating blood (general motives for donating blood, specific motives for the first donation and motives for continuing to be an active blood donor). Questions concerning difficulties and obstacles that had to be overcome in order to continue being a blood donor were also included in the questionnaire.
Results: Altogether 531 whole blood donors filled in the questionnaire (88.5%; 322 men and 209 women). No statistically significant differences were found between male and female blood donors concerning general reasons and motives related to donating blood. The most frequently reported reasons for giving blood the first time were 'influence from a friend' (47.2% of donors) and 'request via media' (23.5% of donors). Among general reasons/motives with highest ranking of importance, the most commonly reported motive for donating blood were 'general altruism' (40.3%), 'social responsibility/obligation' (19.7%) and 'influence from friends' (17.9%). General altruism' and 'social responsibility/obligation' were also the most frequent reasons for continuing to donate blood (68.4 and 16.0%, respectively). The most commonly reported obstacle to becoming a regular blood donor was 'laziness' (19.1%) followed by 'fear of needles' (10.5%).
Conclusions: Altruism was the most common general motive for donating blood and also for continuing to be an active blood donor. Yet, for the first blood donation, direct 'influence from friends/relatives', 'media appeal' and other types of recruitment were more commonly reported as reasons or motives for donating blood than altruism. The findings support the notion that different strategies should be used/adopted to get people to donate blood the first time (e.g. recruitment through other blood donors using, for example, the 'bring a friend along' method) and to retain these subjects as active blood donors (e.g. by information and by strengthening their sense of being a blood donor or their self-efficacy etc.).