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BACKGROUND: This study investigated the effects of adverse events (i.e., needle reactions, fatigue, and vasovagal reactions) and feelings of distress and anxiety on retention of first-time blood donors. All effects were explored separately for men and women.

STUDY DESIGN AND METHODS: First-time blood donors (n = 2438) received a questionnaire, asking them about their experience of adverse events, subjective distress, and anxiety at their first donation. Provision of a second donation was checked approximately 18 months later. After exclusion of nonresponders and donors who did not experience an adverse event, 1278 first-time donors were included in the logistic regression analyses.

RESULTS: Nine percent of donors who experienced an adverse event at their first donation did not return for a second donation. Vasovagal reactions decreased retention in both males and females (men—odds ratio [OR], 0.45; 95% CI, 0.23-0.89; women—OR, 0.71; 95% CI, 0.51-0.98). Fatigue decreased retention in males only (OR, 0.62; 95% CI, 0.42-0.91), and subjective distress decreased retention in females only (OR, 0.77; 95% CI, 0.65-0.92).

CONCLUSION: In addition to decreasing vasovagal reactions, retention interventions could productively target coping with fatigue and reducing subjective distress after adverse reactions.