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Improving blood donor recruitment and retention: integrating theoretical advances from social and behavioral science research agendas


  • This review arose form a symposium organized by EF and CRF at the 26th International Congress of Applied Psychology; July 16-21, 2006; Athens, Greece.

Eamonn Ferguson, Risk Analysis, Social Processes and Health (RASPH) Group, School of Psychology, University of Nottingham, Nottingham, UK; e-mail:


BACKGROUND: Increasing blood donor recruitment and retention is of key importance to transfusion services. Research within the social and behavioral science traditions has adopted separate but complementary approaches to addressing these issues. This article aims to review both of these types of literature, examine theoretical developments, identify commonalities, and offer a means to integrate these within a single intervention approach.

STUDY DESIGN AND METHODS: The social and behavioral science literature on blood donor recruitment and retention focusing on theory, interventions, and integration is reviewed.

RESULTS: The role of emotional regulation (anticipated anxiety and vasovagal reactions) is central to both the behavioral and the social science approaches to enhancing donor motivation, yet although intentions are the best predictor of donor behavior, interventions targeting enactment of intentions have not been used to increase donation. Implementation intentions (that is, if-then plans formed in advance of acting) provide a useful technique to integrate findings from social and behavioral sciences to increase donor recruitment and retention.

CONCLUSION: After reviewing the literature, implementation intention formation is proposed as a technique to integrate the key findings and theories from the behavioral and social science literature on blood donor recruitment and retention.