The donors perceived positive and negative effects of blood donation

Transfusion. 2020 Mar;60(3):553-560. doi: 10.1111/trf.15717.


Background: Occasionally blood donation has a negative influence on some donors, while others express feelings of increased energy or wellbeing after donation. Some donors even report symptoms such as headache or feelings of unease indicating "it is time to donate blood again." This study aims to determine symptoms and frequencies of blood donors experiencing positive and negative effects of blood donation, and study possible associations with sex, age, body mass index, smoking status, and hemoglobin level.

Study design and methods: We developed and validated a questionnaire with eight predefined physical and psychological symptoms related to blood donation using a 5-point Likert Scale. Participants in The Danish Blood Donor Study were asked to indicate if they experienced the present symptom prior to and/or after the donation.

Results: A total of 6,073 donors were included. Of the donors, 61% experienced one or more effects of blood donation. Positive effects were experienced by 18% of the donors, 29% experienced negative effects, and 14% experienced both. Most notable positive effects were alleviated headache (14%), feeling lighter (14%), and less tiredness (7%). Most notable negative effects were less energy (25%), more dizziness (22%), and more tiredness (21%). Logistic regression analysis revealed that positive effects were more likely among donors with higher BMI, older donors, and smokers. Negative effects were more likely among younger donors, donors with lower BMI, and among female donors.

Conclusion: Analyses indicate that susceptibility to blood donation effects varies by BMI, sex, smoking status, and age, and therefore should be taken into consideration when informing donors about potential effects of blood donation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Blood Donors / psychology*
  • Dizziness
  • Emotions
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Young Adult