As the population shifts towards being older and more diverse, the need for a sustainable donor base with representative characteristics is expected to intensify. Whilst it is widely accepted that giving blood is a socially responsible thing to do, less than 3% of people living in England actively donate. Of these donors, only 1% are of African-Caribbean heritage, thus significantly challenging the NHSBT’s ability to effectively treat patients with blood disorders among this demographic such as sickle cell. It is therefore of great importance to better understand the drivers of non-donation in the African-Caribbean population and use these insights to guide and enhance future donor recruitment strategies.

Using a multi-disciplinary approach, this dissertation sought to investigate the individual and external factors influencing blood donation behaviour among African-Caribbean individuals living in England. Overall, findings reflected that though the advantages of donating blood were easily recognised, most people had not donated in the past and exhibited little intention to donate within the next year.  Many of these non-donors expressed that there was neither social pressure to avoid or engage in donation behaviour, but generally felt confident in their ability to donate if intention existed. Non-donors reported being only slightly knowledgeable of the donation procedure, registration process, and more general information, yet expressed being more aware of the specific need for more BAME donors in England.

Consistent with studies on the wider population, results showed that a lack of information, incompatible timetables, and a fear of needles were key barriers to donation. Some barriers were more unique to the African-Caribbean population however. More than 1 in 10 non-donors expressed a distrust in the NHSBT, and 1 in 5 expressed lacking trust in how their blood would be used; highlighting the prevalence of deep-rooted issues that would likely impede recruitment efforts even in the absence of practical difficulties. Furthermore, 1 in 4 non-donors indicated the presence of a barrier outside of those listed in the study suggesting the existence of more complex factors hindering donation.

In spite of this, most non-donors identified at least one factor that would increase the likelihood of them donating in the future; the most common being greater publicity and convenience. Out of the non-donors who were interested in a potential reward for donating, exclusive discounts and time off work emerged as the most popular. Intriguingly nearly half of non-donors expressed a lack of interest in the listed incentives, possibly reflecting: (a) the need for more appealing incentives outside those listed; (b) known exclusion from donation that would be unaffected by an incentive; or (c) individuals who are uncomfortable with the idea of receiving anything in exchange for donating, perhaps due to being purely driven by altruistic motives.

Overall, the results from this formative study presented actionable insights that could be used to inform strategies that seek to recruit more African-Caribbean blood donors through four key approaches;

  • Normalising donation and establishing a positive social expectation around donating,
  • Introducing new beliefs and information that subvert former distrust in the NHSBT and blood usage,
  • Improving the convenience of donating, and
  • Strategically using the environment to support promotional activity.

To read the full dissertation in its entirety please contact ACLT office

Georgelene Elliott BA(Hons)

The dissertation came about shortly after becoming a blood donor myself and learning more about the challenges that occur as a result of the shortage in African-Caribbean blood donors. Being in my final year of university, I believed it was a brilliant opportunity to apply my degree in a socially beneficial way that explores strategies to address the issue, whilst also stimulating conversations about blood donation during my investigation.

Georgelene studied BA (Hons) Marketing with study abroad at Durham University. Georgelene, received a 1st for the work.