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Communicating the move to individualized donor selection policy: Framing messages focused on recipients and safety

Ferguson, Eamonn; Bowen, Sarah; Lawrence, Claire; Starmer, Chris; Barr, Abigail; Davison, Katy; Reynolds, Claire; Brailsford, Susan R

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Professor of Health Psychology

Sarah Bowen

Claire Lawrence

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Professor of Experimental Economics

Professor of Economics

Katy Davison

Claire Reynolds

Susan R Brailsford


Background: Men-who-have-sex-with-men (MSM) have been deferred from donating blood. However, recent evidence supports the adoption of donor screening based on individuals' sexual behavior over population-based criteria. We explore how best to frame communications about adopting this change to minimize any potential negative consequences (e.g., reduced donor numbers). We examine the effectiveness of risk (emphasizing safety vs. emphasizing low risk), and focus (donor vs. recipient) frames on intentions to donate blood (approach) or feeling deterred from donating (avoid), and mechanisms linked to under-reporting sexual behavior. Study Design and Methods: We conducted a 2 (risk frame: risk vs. safety) by 3 (focus: donor vs. recipient vs. both) between-subjects online experiment (n=2677). The main outcomes were intentions to donate and feelings of being put-off/deterred from donating (both for self and others). We also assessed the extent that forgetting, embarrassment/shame, and question irrelevance were perceived to be associated with under-reporting sexual behavior. Results: Frames that focused on safety or a recipient resulted in people reporting being less deterred from donating. Regardless of frame, people from ethnic minorities were more likely to feel deterred. Embarrassment/shame followed by forgetting and perceived irrelevance were the main reasons for under-reporting sexual behaviors, especially in ethnic minorities, and smartphones were perceived as an acceptable memory aid for sexual behavior. Discussion: Blood services moving to an individualized policy should frame donor selection in terms of safety and/or a recipient focus, explore sensitivities in ethnic minority communities, consider ways to normalize reporting sexual behavior, and use smartphones as a memory aid.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Oct 18, 2022
Online Publication Date Nov 9, 2022
Publication Date 2023-01
Deposit Date Nov 1, 2022
Publicly Available Date Nov 10, 2023
Journal Transfusion
Print ISSN 0041-1132
Electronic ISSN 1537-2995
Publisher Wiley
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 63
Issue 1
Pages 171-181
Keywords Hematology; Immunology; Immunology and Allergy
Public URL
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