Beyond Description: The Predictive Role of Affect, Memory, and Context in the Decision to Donate or Not Donate Blood

Transfus Med Hemother. 2020 Apr;47(2):175-185. doi: 10.1159/000501917. Epub 2019 Aug 8.


Background: Research on the recruitment and retention of blood donors has typically drawn on a homogeneous set of descriptive theories, viewing the decision to become and remain a donor as the outcome of affectively cold, planned, and rational decision-making by the individual. While this approach provides insight into how our donors think about blood donation, it is limited and has not translated into a suite of effective interventions. In this review, we set out to explore how a broader consideration of the influences on donor decision-making, in terms of affect, memory, and the context in which donation takes place, may yield benefit in the way we approach donor recruitment and retention.

Summary: Drawing on emerging research, we argue for the importance of considering the implications of both the positive and the negative emotions that donors experience and we argue for the importance of directly targeting affect in interventions to recruit nondonors. Next, we focus on the reconstructed nature of memory and the factors that influence what we remember about an event. We discuss how these processes may impact the retention of donors and the potential to intervene to enhance donors' recollections of their experiences. Finally, we discuss how our focus on the individual has led us to neglect the influence of the context in which donation takes place on donor behavior. We argue that the amassing of comprehensive large data sets detailing both the characteristics of the individuals and the context of their giving will ultimately allow for the more effective deployment of resources to improve recruitment and retention.

Key messages: In suggesting these directions for future research, our want is to move beyond the ways in which we have traditionally described blood donation behavior with the aim of improving our theorizing about donors while improving the translational value of our research.

Keywords: Affect; Donor recruitment and retention; Memory; Theory of planned behavior.

Publication types

  • Review