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Blood and organ donation: health impact, prevalence, correlates and interventions

Ferguson, Eamonn; Murray, Catherine; O'Carroll, Ronan

Blood and organ donation: health impact, prevalence, correlates and interventions Thumbnail


Professor of Health Psychology

Catherine Murray

Ronan O'Carroll


Objective: Without a supply of blood, health services could not meet their clinical needs. Similarly, organs for transplantation save and transform lives. Donations are acts of generosity that are traditionally seen as altruistic, and accordingly, interventions to recruit and retain blood and organ donors have focused on altruism. We review the predictors, prevalence and correlates of these two behaviours, how effective interventions have been, and draw common themes. Design: Narrative review. Results: We highlight that both recipients and donors benefit, and as such neither blood nor organ donation is purely altruistic. We also highlight health problems associated with both types of donation. In evaluating interventions, we highlight that a move to an opt-out default for organ donation may not be the simple fix it is believed to be and propose effective interventions to enhance the opt-in default (e.g. social media updates). We show that incentives, text messaging, feedback and a focus on prosocial emotions (e.g., ‘warm-glow’, ‘gratitude’) may be effective interventions for both blood and organ donation. Interventions designed to reduce fainting (e.g., water pre-loading) are also effective for blood donation. Conclusions: We conclude that affect is key to understanding both types of donation and in designing effective interventions.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Mar 26, 2019
Online Publication Date Jun 18, 2019
Publication Date 2019
Deposit Date Apr 17, 2019
Publicly Available Date Jun 19, 2020
Journal Psychology and Health
Electronic ISSN 1476-8321
Publisher Routledge
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 34
Issue 9
Pages 1073-1104
Keywords Blood donation, organ donation, altruism, reciprocity
Public URL
Publisher URL
Additional Information This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Psychology & Health on 18/06/2019, available online:


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