Saving lives could be the ultimate humanitarian gift. One way to save lives is through the process of donating blood. One blood donation (1 pint) can save up to three lives. Blood is made up of three different life saving components which include plasma, platelets, and red blood cells (Dailey, 2001). Blood cannot be manufactured; it can only come from generous donors.
The need for blood is tremendous in the United States. In fact, someone needs a blood transfusion every two seconds in the United States (American Red Cross [ARC] , 2011b). Each year the demand for blood rises five to seven percent without a similar increase in blood donations (McCarthy, 2007). Reasons for this demand are associated with an aging population, increasingly complex surgeries, aggressive chemotherapy regimens, and a decline of eligible donors (Hannon, 2011). Currently, only 38% of all Americans are eligible to donate blood (ARC, 2011b).
This demand must be fulfilled by voluntary blood donations by eligible donors. In order to donate blood, a few donor barriers must be overcome. The prospective donor must overcome aspects of fear, lack of time, lack of monetary compensation, and eligibility. In addition, the donor should possess the proper knowledge required to make the decision to donate blood. In a recent study of 479 students at the University of California, it was found that the most common barriers for donating blood were inconvenience with time and blood center location (Yuan, Hoffman, Lu, Goldfinger, &
Ziman, 2011). In two other previously completed studies, researchers found a variance in
regard to common blood donation barriers, but found time and convenience are among the top reported barriers to blood donation (Schreiber et al., 2009; Shaz et al., 2006).
Previous research has suggested that the donation behaviors of young adults are decreasing at an alarming rate compared to older populations in the United States. For both male and female donors ages 20-39, a greater than 40% decrease in numbers of repeat donors was observed from 1996 to 2005 (Zou, Musavi, Notari IV, & Fang, 2008). The reasons for this decline must be determined in order keep the blood supply well stocked for future life saving endeavors.
The process of getting young adults to donate is not easy. Two previous sets of researchers (Schreiber et al., 2009; Shaz et al., 2006) mentioned that prior interventions have been done to promote blood donation behaviors by means of increasing awareness, raising knowledge, and providing incentives for prospective donors (Schreiber et al., 2009; Shaz et al., 2006). Many of these strategies have proven to be successful, whereas others have failed. For that reason, additional studies need to be done concerning donors’ intent to donate, and factors limiting their blood donating behaviors.
Statement of the Problem
Universities represent great resources for blood collection agencies. There is a large concentration of mostly young, healthy people, who can be easily accessed.
Unfortunately, at most universities students do not tend to donate blood. As previously mentioned, in both male and female donors ages 20-39, a greater than 40% decrease in numbers of repeat donors was observed from 1996 to 2005 (Zou et al., 2008). In order to help reduce blood shortages, progress must be made to improve blood donation rates in college age individuals. This study will attempt to gain insight into whether knowledge
about blood donation can influence one’s intent to donate blood. This is critical, because without knowing the factors that lead to the decline in donors among young adults, effective interventions cannot be completed.