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BACKGROUND:  A better understanding of Canadian blood donor beliefs and motivations is needed to develop targeted interventions. Recruiters must know how motivation variables and correlation patterns differ with donor experience and sex.

STUDY DESIGN AND METHODS:  Data addressing reasons for donating, statements about the blood supply, beliefs about donation consequences, and reasons for avoiding donation were collected from 450 undergraduates. Principal components analysis was used to investigate the underlying factorial structure of each domain. Men-women and donor-nondonor differences were explored with multivariate analysis of variance techniques.

RESULTS:  A bivariate model better represented donor beliefs than did a bipolar conceptualization. Negative beliefs distinguished donors and nondonors more so than did positive factors. Altruism dominated reasons for donating, whereas logistic factors accounted for the most variance in donation avoidance. Women were more concerned about adverse physical consequences, and nondonors expressed higher levels of groundless donation-related fears.

CONCLUSION:  Recruiters should consider the sex and donation experience of targets when they develop recruitment and retention strategies. Education programs aimed at overcoming fears and heightening awareness of need are recommended, as are operational improvements aimed at reducing barriers posed by time and inconvenience.