ASSESSMENT OF FULL BLOOD COUNT IN PROSPECTIVE BLOOD DONORS
Saving lives could be the ultimate humanitarian gift. One way to save lives is through the process of donating blood. One blood donation (1 pint) can save up to three lives. Blood is made up of three different life saving components which include plasma, platelets, and red blood cells (Dailey, 2001). Blood cannot be manufactured; it can only come from generous donors.
The need for blood is tremendous in the United States. In fact, someone needs a blood transfusion every two seconds in the United States (American Red Cross [ARC] , 2011b). Each year the demand for blood rises five to seven percent without a similar increase in blood donations (McCarthy, 2007). Reasons for this demand are associated with an aging population, increasingly complex surgeries, aggressive chemotherapy regimens, and a decline of eligible donors (Hannon, 2011). Currently, only 38% of all Americans are eligible to donate blood (ARC, 2011b).
This demand must be fulfilled by voluntary blood donations by eligible donors. In order to donate blood, a few donor barriers must be overcome. The prospective donor must overcome aspects of fear, lack of time, lack of monetary compensation, and eligibility. In addition, the donor should possess the proper knowledge required to make the decision to donate blood. In a recent study of 479 students at the University of California, it was found that the most common barriers for donating blood were inconvenience with time and blood center location (Yuan, Hoffman, Lu, Goldfinger, &
Ziman, 2011). In two other previously completed studies, researchers found a variance in
regard to common blood donation barriers, but found time and convenience are among the top reported barriers to blood donation (Schreiber et al., 2009; Shaz et al., 2006).
Previous research has suggested that the donation behaviors of young adults are decreasing at an alarming rate compared to older populations in the United States. For both male and female donors ages 20-39, a greater than 40% decrease in numbers of repeat donors was observed from 1996 to 2005 (Zou, Musavi, Notari IV, & Fang, 2008). The reasons for this decline must be determined in order keep the blood supply well stocked for future life saving endeavors.
The process of getting young adults to donate is not easy. Two previous sets of researchers (Schreiber et al., 2009; Shaz et al., 2006) mentioned that prior interventions have been done to promote blood donation behaviors by means of increasing awareness, raising knowledge, and providing incentives for prospective donors (Schreiber et al., 2009; Shaz et al., 2006). Many of these strategies have proven to be successful, whereas others have failed. For that reason, additional studies need to be done concerning donors’ intent to donate, and factors limiting their blood donating behaviors.
Universities represent great resources for blood collection agencies. There is a large concentration of mostly young, healthy people, who can be easily accessed.
Unfortunately, at most universities students do not tend to donate blood. As previously mentioned, in both male and female donors ages 20-39, a greater than 40% decrease in numbers of repeat donors was observed from 1996 to 2005 (Zou et al., 2008). In order to help reduce blood shortages, progress must be made to improve blood donation rates in college age individuals. This study will attempt to gain insight into whether knowledge
about blood donation can influence one’s intent to donate blood. This is critical, because without knowing the factors that lead to the decline in donors among young adults, effective interventions cannot be completed.
Understanding why young adults do not donate blood can help create effective promotional strategies intended to increase blood donation behaviors. This understanding may lead to more effective interventions to recruit blood donors, ultimately leading to the production of more blood units. Accessing the students at Minnesota State University, Mankato (MNSU) is important to help lead to this understanding. This study could prove to be of significance because if only one additional percent of all Americans would give blood, blood shortages would disappear for the foreseeable future (American Blood Centers, 2011a).
Targeting university students and learning about them can help to resolve the blood shortage. In the community of Mankato, MN where MNSU is located, individuals aged 15-29 make up 44.2 % of the total population (United States Census Bureau, 2010). Although not all of these individuals attend MNSU, the number of individuals who could be accessed is significant. If universities were studied and targeted all around America, the one percent increase in donors could be attainable. Assessing university students’ knowledge in relation to blood donation is just one way to help appease blood shortages in the United States.
The purpose of this study was to assess university students’ knowledge of blood donation in relation to intent based upon a constructed survey instrument.Previous
researchers have focused on an individual’s knowledge level based on education level and awareness about blood donation collection times or locations, but this study assessed knowledge directly related to the importance of blood donation. Exploring new potential blood donation barriers such as a lack of knowledge can eventually contribute to new educational interventions aimed at improving blood donation knowledge. Ultimately, this could help improve the number of blood donors, which would help appease theblood shortage in the United States. The study also assessed the university population to gain perspectives on blood donation intent levels related to gender, age, and different ethnicities. This study will provide a new perspective on assessing knowledge in relation to blood donationintent.
The following research questions were examined in this study:
- What are the respondents’ blood donation intentlevels?
- What do the respondents know about blooddonation?
- What are the respondents’ current blood donationbehaviors?
- Do the respondents have a positive or negative perceived attitude about donating blood?
- Do the respondents have high or low blood donationconfidence?
- What is the relationship between knowledge and intentlevel?
- Do men and women differ in their blood donation intent levels, knowledgelevels, attitudes, and levels of blood donationconfidence?
- What is the relationship between age and blood donation intentlevels?
- What are the respondents’ preferred methods of receiving information regardingblood donationmaterial?
The limitations presented in this research include the following:
- The results reflect knowledge and intent of MNSU students, and the results maynot be generalized to other universitypopulations.
- The survey instrument was created only for this study, and has never been testedon other universitypopulations.
- Results were based on self-reported survey responses regarding blood donation behaviors and may reflect participantbias.
- The sample size was limited by a convenience sample of participants by the Information Technology Systems at MNSU, as well as to the selected individualswho responded to the emailed survey.
- A threat to external validity may be seen due to selection bias created from a convenience sample of MNSU students enrolled in at least one class for the2011-2012 schoolyears.
The delimitations presented in this research include the following:
- The study was delimited only to MNSU students enrolled in at least one class forthe 2011-2012 schoolyear.
- The study was delimited only to MNSU students who were 18 years of age orolder.
- The study was delimited by a short time frame for data collection, which ranfrom February 21st to February 28th,2012.
The assumptions of this research include the following:
- All of the participants were in fact MNSUstudents.
- All of the participants could read and understand thesurvey.
- All of the participants took the survey onlyonce.
- All of the participants were 18 years of age orolder.
- All of the participants took the knowledge assessment portion of the surveywithout using aids to find the correctanswer.
For the use of this research a variety of terms were used. These particular terms are defined in the following section:
- Minnesota State University, Mankato (MNSU) Students: Participants must be enrolled in at least one class for the 2011-2012 schoolyear.
- Intent Level: A measure of the extent to which an individual is motivated togive blood (Giles, McClenahan, Cairns, & Mallet,2004).
- Knowledge Level: The participants’ knowledge related to blooddonation.
- Theory of Planned Behavior (TPB): A behavioral decision making model designed to account for behaviors that are not under an individual’s complete volitional control. Its constructs include intention, attitude, subjective norms and self-efficacy (Masser, White, Hyde, & Terry,2008).
- Barriers: Factors that can impede one’s goals or a specified health behavior. In this study, barriers can inhibit one’s blood donation activity. Specific barrierscan
include time constraints, health concerns, lack of compensation, or a fear of needles.
- Donor Eligibility: In order to donate blood in the United States, donors must be 17 years of age (in most states), at least 110 pounds, and must be healthy. Also, individuals with HIV/AIDS and forms of Hepatitis are ineligible to donate (ARC, 2011c).
- Blood Donation Knowledge: Knowledge related to the direct need for blood in the United States, donor eligibility, the blood donation process, and factors influencing the blood supply in the United States.