Population-based screening for anemia using first-time blood donors


  • Conflict of interest: Nothing to report.


Anemia is an important public health concern. Data from population-based surveys such as the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) are the gold standard, but are obtained infrequently and include only small samples from certain minority groups. We assessed whether readily available databases of blood donor hemoglobin values could be used as a surrogate for population hemoglobin values from NHANES. Blood donor venous and fingerstick hemoglobin values were compared to 10,254 NHANES 2005-2008 venous hemoglobin values using demographically stratified analyses and ANOVA. Fingerstick hemoglobins or hematocrits were converted to venous hemoglobin estimates using regression analysis. Venous hemoglobin values from 1,609 first time donors correlated extremely well with NHANES data across different ages, genders, and demographic groups. Cigarette smoking increased hemoglobin by 0.26–0.59 g/dL depending on the intensity. Converted fingerstick hemoglobin from 36,793 first time donors agreed well with NHANES hemoglobin (weighted mean hemoglobin of 15.53 g/dL for donors and 15.73 g/dL for NHANES) with similar variation in mean hemoglobin by age. However, compared to NHANES, the larger donor data set showed reduced differences in mean hemoglobin between Blacks and other races/ethnicities. Overall, first-time donor fingerstick hemoglobins approximate US population data and represent a readily available public health resource for ongoing anemia surveillance. Am. J. Hematol. 87:496–502, 2012. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.