Improving the donation experience and reducing venipuncture pain by addressing fears among whole-blood and plasma donors

Philippe T. Gilchrist*, Amanda Thijsen, Barbara M. Masser, Christopher R. France, Tanya E. Davison

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Fear of blood donation is implicated in vasovagal reactions, donor recruitment, and retention. This study examined the extent to which fear among donors is associated with various donor outcomes in an Australian sample, and whether fear can be addressed on-site to reduce adverse reactions and improve the donation experience.

Study design and methods: Six hundred and sixty-four donors (age M = 33.4, SD = 12.7; 55% female) participated in a two-center, pragmatic, parallel group, individually randomized controlled trial. Following donor registration and consent, whole-blood (n = 539) and plasma (n = 125) donors were assigned to one of four Conditions: control; fear assessment; fear assessment + brochure; fear assessment + brochure + tailored conversation focused on any self-reported fear and coping strategies. Post-donation questionnaires assessed the donors' experience including positive support, donor self-efficacy, anxiety, fear, venipuncture pain, and vasovagal reactions.

Results: Fear among donors predicted higher venipuncture pain, post-donation anxiety, and vasovagal reactions and remained significant after controlling for other established predictors (i.e., total estimated blood volume, age, sex, and donation experience). Mediational analyses showed that exposure to brochures (with or without the tailored conversation) was associated with less pain, with this effect mediated by donor perceptions of more positive support. Venipuncture pain was also associated with vasovagal reactions, reduced likelihood of return within 6 months, and less satisfaction with the donation experience.

Conclusion: The current results underline the importance of interventions to address fear among both whole-blood and plasma donors to secure the safety and well-being of donors and the blood supply.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages9
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 26 Apr 2021


  • brochures
  • donor fears
  • vasovagal reactions
  • venipuncture pain

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