Public knowledge and perception of blood - transfusion and conservation: The Exeter experience
Ridler, Brigid Mary Fitzclarence
Thesis or dissertation
University of Exeter
Background Only 4% of the UK population are blood donors but 30% of the same population may receive blood during their lives. There are many myths, factual inaccuracies and fears surrounding blood. The process of blood conservation tries to keep the precious stocks of donor blood for those patients who really need it, using alternative methods wherever possible. The aim of this study was to determine what the public know, or would like to know, about UK blood, both transfusion and conservation. Method People in Exeter, UK, on existing hospital/academic/clinical research databases and who had consented to research participation, were contacted. Identification details of the participants were anonymised and confidential. This study was conducted electronically via the internet. Phase I included a questionnaire, designed in Word®, converted to SurveyMonkey® software, piloted and then amended for distribution for Phase II as the main survey. Data analysis was performed quantitatively and qualitatively via Excel® for free text comments. Results Phase I of the study piloted the questionnaire for accuracy and user- acceptability, which was shown to be feasible and valid. Phase 2 of the study found 1116 replies from 4484 people, a response rate of 24%, acceptable for an electronic survey. The highest proportion was in the 65-74 years age group. A total of 186 (17%) had concerns about blood transfusion in the UK. Of the total, 780 (70%) that there was not enough blood available. Seventeen per cent (n=182) of respondents were blood donors. Nineteen percent (n=213) had received blood. Only 19 (1.5%) respondents thought that there was high risk of infection from a blood transfusion. The majority (n=1001, 90%) considered receiving blood was beneficial. Receiving the wrong blood was perceived as low risk by over three quarters (n=849, 77%). Only 4% (n=44) felt worried that they might be given an avoidable transfusion. The cost of blood transfusion was important for 507 (45%). Half (n=553, 52%) of all respondents indicated that they would be interested to know how blood can be conserved for those patients who really need it; interest in alternatives to transfusion, such as recycling blood at surgery, was higher at 642 (60%). Preference for the information format was towards electronic type (n=498, 55%), with paper as the second choice by 242 (27%) respondents. Over 60% of those who replied were likely (n=201) or very likely (n=409) to talk with family and friends about blood conservation. Qualitative responses (N=1586) were extensive and occasionally emotional. The highest of these were criticisms of the blood donation process, although some suggestions for improvement were offered. There were also concerns expressed for the safety and testing of UK donor blood. Other themes included financial implications for donor blood (and the NHS), and personal or family experience of transfusion. There were some misunderstandings and assumptions about UK blood but also awareness for, and the reasons why, blood conservation is necessary. Conclusion This study has shown that there is a high public perception of the UK’s blood supply together with awareness of its risks and benefits. Qualitative responses focussed on blood donation and safety issues, but there were also some misconceptions. There was positive interest in blood conservation, including alternatives to donor blood, and in sharing this information with others. Educational resources could be developed to help empower people for their own individual blood management, but further research with larger sample sizes is needed.
Blood Conservation Charitable Fund at the Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Foundation Trust (2013-2015)
MbyRes in Sport & Health Sciences