BACKGROUND: For the past several decades, Chinese blood centers have relied on blood donations from employer-organized donors (blood donors who donate blood in groups with coworkers as prearranged by the employer and the local blood center). Recently the government has decided to phase out employer-organized donors and transition to the use of only volunteer donors (blood donors who donate individually independent of employers). Evaluating the beliefs and attitudes of employer-organized and volunteer donors is critical to maintain an adequate blood supply after this transition.
STUDY DESIGN AND METHODS: The study population consisted of 431 volunteer donors and 527 employer-organized donors who completed a structured questionnaire in July 2005.
RESULTS: Employer-organized donors tended to be older, male, and married, with higher education and higher income compared to volunteer donors. Volunteer donors were more often motivated by altruism (p < 0.001) and more likely to donate larger volumes (400 mL vs. 200 mL) of blood (volunteer 70.5% vs. employer-organized 7%; p < 0.001). Employer-organized donors were more inhibited by factors related to traditional Chinese beliefs, such as the belief that blood donation affects life energy “Qi” (volunteer 3.1% vs. employer-organized 12.7%; p < 0.001), and requested more time off from work after donating. Employer-organized donors also express a greater concern about contracting disease from donating blood.
CONCLUSION: To recruit voluntary donors effectively in China and other countries with traditional cultures, efforts need to counteract traditional beliefs and perceptions of risk that discourage donation by emphasizing the benefits, safety mechanisms, physiology, and epidemiology of blood donation. In China, there is a rich opportunity to convert prior employer-organized donors into volunteer donors, and the institution of a confidential predonation screening system may help to facilitate truthful risk factor disclosure.