Research Article

Scottish attitudes to blood donation and AIDS.

BMJ 1989; 298 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.298.6679.1012 (Published 15 April 1989) Cite this as: BMJ 1989;298:1012
  1. S. G. MacAskill,
  2. G. B. Hastings,
  3. R. E. McNeill,
  4. J. Gillon
  1. Department of Marketing, University of Strathclyde, Glasgow.

    Abstract

    OBJECTIVE--To see whether the issue of AIDS has influenced the observed decline in blood donation in Scotland. DESIGN--Two methods: a quantitative survey using personal interviews based on a questionnaire and a qualitative survey based on group discussions. SETTING--Interviews based on the questionnaire were conducted in the respondents' homes. The group discussions were held in the homes of professional market research interviewers. PARTICIPANTS--For the quantitative survey a representative sample of 976 Scottish adults was selected by multistage sampling. In the qualitative survey 16 groups of five to eight respondents assigned according to donating experience and sociodemographic criteria took part. MAIN RESULTS--AIDS was not mentioned as a discouraging factor in donation, and off putting aspects identified before AIDS became a public issue remained salient--for example, fear of needles. Many (75%) thought it unlikely that donation entailed a risk of developing AIDS. Nevertheless, respondents were reluctant to consider the AIDS issue personally. Being asked to do so, as in the routine screening of donors, aroused fears and resentment. CONCLUSIONS--The issue of AIDS, including fear of infection, has not directly influenced the declining numbers of donors, but the unpleasant associations of AIDS have had an indirect effect, particularly in undermining the emotional benefits of giving blood. For example, the screening process, which requires potential donors to consider their personal risk from AIDS, had had the effect of discouraging donors in general. Redressing the balance is difficult as screening must be universally applied. Rather than minimising the issue of AIDS, publicity needs urgently to reassert the positive benefits of and rewards from giving blood.