Motivational Factors in Blood Donation - A Systematic Review

Special Article: Transfusion Medicine

J Blood Disord. 2024; 11(1): 1083.

Motivational Factors in Blood Donation - A Systematic Review

Bianca Andrade Borsato1; Caroline Bitencourt Silva Miranda1; Hayssa Silva Bizotti1; Maria Eduarda de Moura Soares1; Rafaela Labiapari1; Daniela de Oliveira Werneck Rodrigues1,2*

1Departamento de Clínica Médica, Centro Universitário Presidente Antônio Carlos. Juiz de Fora, Minas Gerais - Brazil

2Hemocentro Regional de Juiz de Fora, Fundação Hemominas, Juiz de Fora, Minas Gerais, Brazil

*Corresponding author: Hemocentro Regional de Juiz de Fora Fundação Hemominas, Juiz de Fora, Minas Gerais, Brazil. Email: [email protected]

Received: December 01, 2023 Accepted: January 06, 2024 Published: January 13, 2024


The primary motivating factor for blood donation is altruism and its derivatives, such as empathy and social responsibility. However, no conclusive answers were obtained from the analysis of these articles, indicating the need for further studies focused on this topic. In Brazil, blood donation is voluntary, unpaid, and anonymous. Despite being a reference in Latin America for improving voluntary donation rates and expanding the age range of potential donors, there are still many challenges related to this practice, as only 1.9% of the Brazilian population are blood donors. This article aims to identify, through a literature review, the main motivations for blood donation. For this purpose, a systematic review was conducted, including studies published in English, Portuguese, and Spanish between 2013 and 2023, from the PubMed, SciELO, and LILACS databases, using MeSH queries with the descriptors “blood donors,” “donor motivation,” and “motivation.” Original articles and review articles were included. A total of 207 articles were identified in February and March 2023, and after applying the inclusion criteria, 25 articles were selected for the study. This study was registered in the International Prospective Register of Systematic Reviews (PROSPERO- CRD42023431808) and concluded that the main motivator for blood donation was altruism and its “derivatives,” such as empathy and social responsibility. No conclusive answers were obtained from the analysis of these articles, which necessitates further studies on this topic.

Keywords: Blood donors; Motivation; Donor motivation


Blood has played a significant role throughout the history of humanity, being associated with life, and expressed through myths and symbols in different cultures. The history of blood transfusion can be divided into three distinct periods: prehistoric, pre-scientific, and scientific. The scientific period was marked by the discovery of blood groups in the early 20th century. Over time, blood transfusion became an essential therapeutic practice for saving lives, leading to the emergence and organization of hemotherapy [1].

In Brazil, the first blood banks emerged in 1940, and since then, the act of donating blood has acquired meaning not only culturally but also religious, economic, social, and even political significance. Over time, people have developed motivations and impediments related to this practice [2]. In the 1940s, the use of blood and its derivatives had a high market value and was considered a profit-oriented act. Consequently, it led to an increase in the number of blood donations in Brazil [3]. However, this practice was prohibited by the Brazilian Society of Hematology and Hemotherapy and the Brazilian Medical Association in 1979, making blood donation strictly a voluntary act. This decision was made because the increase in the number of people who began donating blood for monetary gain made it difficult to control the donors' identity and compromised the donor's viability. As a result, the donor pool became non-specific1. Therefore, since donation became a voluntary act in the country, the number of donors experiences significant instability, highlighting the need for strategies to attract donors to meet blood banks’ demands [2].

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 3% to 5% of the population should be blood donors, which is not the reality in most countries [4], especially in those where donation is a voluntary act. The National Blood Donor Program (PNDS) has set goals to mobilize society towards the need for spontaneous and regular blood donation, aiming to ensure an adequate supply to meet the country's demand and improve the quality of blood, its components, and its derivatives. If these objectives are achieved, they will gradually foster a new culture of blood donation in Brazilian society, resulting in a gradual increase in voluntary donations, donor loyalty, and an increase in the coverage percentage of blood components. This, in turn, will reduce the final cost due to a decrease in clinical and serological ineligibility rates [5].

In countries where donation is voluntary, the search for donors is a challenging process as there is often a deficit in the number of donors and maintaining an adequate blood supply, which impacts the ability to perform surgeries and puts lives at risk [6]. Several studies are underway to understand the motivations and obstacles within society regarding the blood donation process. The authors conducted a literature review and presented in this study the compiled data from Brazil and international literature on the motivational factors of blood donation.

Material and Methods

This review included original research articles and review articles available in English, Portuguese, and Spanish from the years 2013 to 2023. The articles were required to be fully accessible and free of charge, and they had to address the pre-established PICO (Population, Intervention, Comparison, Outcome) criteria. We opted to conduct a systematic literature review following the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) guidelines. This study was registered in the International Prospective Register of Systematic Reviews (PROSPERO-CRD42023431808). The literature search was performed using the PICO approach.

P (population): Blood donors.

I (intervention): Factors that motivate donors. C (comparison): Different types of motivations.

O (outcome): Identification of the main motivations for blood donation.

A search was conducted in the LILACS (Latin American and Caribbean Health Sciences Literature), SciELO (Scientific Electronic Library Online), and PubMed databases during the months of February and March 2023. The following keywords were used: "blood donors," "motivation," and "donor motivation," as per the Medical Subject Headings (MeSH). The Boolean operator "AND" was used to connect these keywords.

The following criteria were used for the exclusion of studies works that did not belong to the theme, studies involving other types of donations, studies without an abstract, and those that did not include at least two of the descriptors addressed in this review in the title or abstract. Additionally, books, book chapters, editorials, experiential reports, correspondences, letters to the editor, comments, opinion articles, and guidelines were excluded as it was not possible to verify the peer review process, as is the case with scientific articles.


The study selection was conducted in stages by the reviewers. In the first stage, the titles and abstracts of the 207 references identified through the search strategy were evaluated. After removing duplicates, only studies from the PubMed and SciELO databases remained. Potentially eligible studies were pre-selected, and duplicates were excluded.

In the second stage, the 50 pre-selected studies were evaluated and read in full to confirm their eligibility. After applying the inclusion and exclusion criteria, 25 articles were selected to be included in the scope of this study (Table 1). With these articles, the third phase of the Systematic Review began, represented by the detailed analysis of each article organized in a synoptic framework with specificities of each publication, such as article title, objective, database, and results that allowed analysis with bibliometric characteristics.

Citation: Borsato BA, Miranda CBS, Bizotti HS, de Moura Soares ME, Labiapari R, et al. Motivational Factors in Blood Donation - A Systematic Review. J Blood Disord. 2024; 11(1): 1083.