BACKGROUND: To understand repeated donation, it is crucial to know its meaning. This issue was explored by asking a sample of regular donors to explain why they maintain this behavior.
STUDY DESIGN AND METHODS: Discourse analysis was conducted in five groups of regular donors, selected according to the setting and number of their donations (from 1990 to 2001), on their motivation, attitudes, commitment to donation, personality, and self-concept.
RESULTS: Three discursive positions were distinguished in relation to the different cultural meanings attributed to blood donation. Blood donation was understood in a rational and evaluative manner by the majority but in an emotional, personalized, and stereotyped manner by a minority. Continual donation as a form of help was rationalized as a function of internal and external factors, notably personal convenience in comparison to other helping behaviors and ease of access to collection points.
CONCLUSIONS: The discourse referents offered to the donor greatly influence the meanings they attribute to their behavior. Some promotional materials should be revised because they may not connect with the reasons for donating that people find most comprehensible.