BACKGROUND: Fear is an important contributor to the risk of presyncopal reactions to blood donation. However, concern that asking donors about their fears may increase the risk of reactions is a potential impediment to incorporating fear assessment into donor screening.

STUDY DESIGN AND METHODS: Before donation, participants responded to a series of questions that either did (n = 488) or did not (n = 494) include questions related to fear of seeing blood drawn. Immediately after donation all participants provided ratings of presyncopal reactions.

RESULTS: Among those asked predonation fear questions, fear was most strongly related to presyncopal symptoms when compared against other donor characteristics (e.g., age, number of prior donations, body mass index, estimated blood volume, blood pressure, and pulse). However, Mann-Whitney U tests revealed that being asked about fear before donation was not associated with higher reports of presyncopal reactions for the sample as a whole, nor among novice donors. Further, regression analyses indicated that fear remained a significant predictor of presyncopal reactions in final models that included age and number of prior donations as significant predictors.

CONCLUSION: Predonation assessment of fear of blood draws may help to identify donors who are most likely to benefit from brief interventions designed to enhance donor coping, reduce risk of presyncopal reactions, and increase donor retention.