Blood Transfusion - 6 2018 (November-December)
Importance of information provision in the acceptance of blood donation criteria by the general public in Belgium
 
Authors:  Bert Avau, Emmy De Buck, Philippe Vandekerckhove, Veerle Compernolle
Pages:  475-482
To cite this article:  Blood Transfus 2018; 16: 475-82
Doi:  10.2450/2017.0151-17
Published online:  27/11/2017

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ABSTRACT
 
Background. Blood transfusions save lives, but carry the risk of causing transfusion-transmitted diseases. This risk is limited by strict donor selection criteria, the most controversial being the exclusion of men who had sex with men (MSM). This cross-sectional study investigated knowledge and beliefs of the general public concerning donor exclusion criteria, with emphasis on MSM.
Materials and methods. A representative sample of the population of Flanders, Belgium was questioned using a web-based questionnaire. The effect of additional information on people's opinions was tested.
Results. People were less aware of the exclusion of MSM than of other risk populations, e.g. prostitutes. Correspondingly, they were more willing to accept blood from MSM than from other risk populations. MSM were also considered appropriate donors. Interestingly, prior knowledge about the exclusion of MSM appeared to be the strongest predictor for not accepting blood from MSM or a more stringent attitude on MSM exclusion. Receiving information on reasons for exclusion shifted opinions towards more stringency. Nevertheless, most people think that exceptions for MSM should be made under certain circumstances. This study identified several demographic factors associated with opinions concerning the exclusion of MSM for blood donation and the potential to change opinions after receiving information, e.g. age or socio-economic status.
Discussion. Blood collecting services can gain understanding from the general public about their exclusion policies by providing clear information. Communication efforts targeting specific audiences in function of their knowledge and likeliness to change their opinion, might improve the effectiveness of information campaigns.
 
Keywords: blood donors, blood transfusion/adverse effects, MSM, men who have sex with men, blood donor selection.
 
  
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