Predicting the blood donor population during a natural disaster event
Musel-Winn, Joyceann Rafael
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As natural disasters increase in frequency and intensity, maintaining a safe blood supply with acceptable volunteer donors has become a global health issue. Blood shortages are more dramatic during emergency events, directly affecting patient care since these blood units are needed to sustain life. Yet the donor statistics suggest a steady decrease in first-time and career donors. This study investigates whether donors responding to a natural disaster are more inclined to become career donors as compared to non-emergency first-time donors and if so what donor characteristics are predictive of returning donors. The questionnaire data of 4388 participants were analyzed with cross-tabulation using Pearson’s chi-square suggesting that first-time donors’ (N = 2041) were less inclined to return as career donors when they first donated during an emergency event (15.4% returned) as compared to donors that donated during non-emergency timeframe (21.6% returned). An independent t-test analysis found that the returning donors were more inclined to have a lower mean age (M = 28.16) and a lower weight (M = 170.2) than donors less inclined to return (M = 33.77 and M =177.4, respectfully). In addition, 69.9% of all females returning to donate did not have a pregnancy history. Identifying the characteristics of potential donors during emergency events can be used by blood centers to recruit and design marketing strategies to improve the donors’ response rate during natural disaster blood shortages. The logistic regression analysis was performed and established that the donors responding during the emergency tended to be younger and have a wider variation of blood pressure readings. Meanwhile, blood centers should expect fewer of the first-time donors inspired to donate by social motivation, improved attitude and perceived behavioral control during the natural emergency to return to donate. After the emergency the first-time donors, their social inertia returns as the sense of urgency and priorities return to pre-emergency state.