BACKGROUND: In the past decade, the number of blood donors has steadily declined in the Netherlands, and young adults are underrepresented among registered donors. An understanding of the correlates of donation intentions among nondonors could facilitate targeting psychological prerequisites of donation decisions in recruitment campaigns.

STUDY DESIGN AND METHODS. A cross-sectional study with self-administered questionnaires based on an extension of the Theory of Planned Behavior (TPB; a social cognition model to study the determinants of volitional behavior) was conducted to assess potential cognitive determinants of willingness to donate blood in a student sample. A response rate of 50.5 percent yielded a sample of 311.

RESULTS: Just over 7 percent of participants were registered blood donors but most (61.7%) had never seriously considered becoming donors. Self-efficacy (confidence in performing the behavior), attitude (the overall evaluation of the behavior), and personal moral norm (the perceived personal responsibility to perform the behavior) regarding blood donation were the most important correlates of the intention to become a blood donor. In total, 43 percent of the variance in the intentions toward blood donation could be explained by a TPB-based model.

CONCLUSION: Among students, determinants of the intention to become a blood donor include self-efficacy, attitude, personal moral norm regarding blood donation, and subjective norm (perceived social support). Future research could establish whether campaigns targeting these psychological prerequisites would be more effective than current strategies.