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Because Italian blood donors are among the most motivated

Blood is not sold, it is donated. This is revealed by a study carried out in the two-year period 2018-2020 by Avis Nazionale together with researchers from the Imt School of Higher Studies of Lucca on psychological origins And values of blood donation. In comparison, for example, with systems – such as the Hungarian one – in which the paid donation. An investigation that becomes relevant again on the occasion of the World Blood Donor Day which falls on June 14 and was established in 2004 by the World Health Organization.

The study has the advantage of examining a national sample of 6,800 participants for the first time thanks to the active collaboration of Avis Tuscany, Avis Emilia Romagna, Avis Lombardy And Avis Puglia. Not only that: the research, and this is one of the essential points, compared the data with 1,082 Hungarian donors, belonging to a system as mentioned reimbursed in the context of plasma donation, so as to obtain a profile that characterized voluntary donors by contrast. Both Italians and foreigners responded to a 60 question questionnaire through a web app «from which it was possible to extract, with appropriate statistical analyses, i main motivational factors and compare them with the habits and characteristics of the donors themselves” we read in the Avis magazine in 2022.

The investigation recalls the differences between the systems compared from a regulatory perspective. In the Italian voluntary and unpaid donor system, a donor can donate a maximum of six times a year with a minimum gap of 15 days between two appointments. In the paid one, however, over 60 annual donations can be made with minimum distances of 72 hours in exchange for a fixed payment plus incentives of various types.

The study explains that if the starting point is (or can be) similar, that is, an initial awareness and responsibility in the choice to start donating, the path separates after a short time: only volunteers develop a true intrinsic motivation towards this practice. «That is, a stable link is created between the personal meaning of this gesture and the values ​​of the individual, therefore ‘intrinsic’. Donating therefore becomes aself-motivating action, which does not require external incentives or requests. Intrinsic motivation is the fundamental component for that donor identity that allows the Italian volunteer to continue his career for over 10-15 years” they explain Emiliano Ricciardi And Dario Menicaglitwo of the researchers from the Tuscan institute.

Paying for a donation shifts the focus from the value of the gesture to the “sale” of something

On the contrary, who is paid this identification does not occur either it gets lost quickly. Whoever donates becomes someone who sells something and the key focuses almost exclusively on extrinsic incentives, such as the economic one. In fact, the donation experience ends on average after 2-3 years, perhaps to the change of some parameters and the loss of motivation after a phase of frequent search for donation. Precisely because it was reimbursed.

Free donation creates identity and strengthens it

In Italy, in short, you give with one profound social motivationamong other things often rooted in a family history or tradition. «Taking into consideration the entire sample of plasma and whole blood donors, we note how all the volunteers demonstrate their solidarity reasons towards each form of donation, while describing a specific identity depending on the respective form of donation» continue the experts . If anything, the survey explains, what puts this virtuous habit to the test is the poor availability of facilities and the lack of possibilities to agree on a donation appointment that is as aligned as possible with your daily needs. Constraints that also add to the fear of reactions before or after donation procedures«an emotional variable that weighs on the donor’s return especially at the beginning of his experience in this environment».

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Motivated by «kinship»

In general, among both groups (Italian and Hungarian) the younger donors are motivated by the so-called «kinship», the possibility of helping with their gift the people close to them or who they consider important. At the same time, the opportunities and advantages linked to donation count in the 18-29 year age group, such as free medical check-ups but also symbolic recognition for one’s donation activity. With age, however, the pure emotional reward linked to the simple altruistic act, the so-called “warm glow”, increases. As for gender differences, the study discovered how donors are more interested in the relational and emotional side of the gift, with a better ability to promote this practice, but also a greater vulnerability to the possible adverse effects of the donation. Males, on the other hand, are more sensitive to public recognition and the concrete advantages deriving from being a donor.

«The motivation to give is therefore a dynamic phenomenonwhich is influenced by heterogeneous variables and must be strengthened through specific actions of the transfusion system and associations – the experts recall – if in fact the better coordination and availability of transfusion centers can make up for the contingent difficulties that donors have to face, especially new ones, the world of Italian volunteering has the ability to create a network of people who inspire the growth of that intrinsic sense of giving typical of our donation system.”

Donations in Italy

In Italy there are blood donors approximately 1.6 million (66% male and 33% female), those considered periodic 1.3 million and those making their first donation around 280 thousand. A more or less stable figure in recent years. In 2022, according to the latest data from the National Blood Center, 2.9 million procedures underwent.
The data shows how, starting from 2011 and until 2022, the largest group of donors has become that of 46-55 year olds when, until 2016, the majority of donors belonged to 36-45 year olds.
Very few, not even 200 thousand, the youngest between 18 and 25 years old. As we had explained, if Italy has achieved self-sufficiency in terms of red blood cells, in terms of plasma donations – the liquid component of blood – the system is forced to resort to the international market for life-saving plasma-derived drugs such as albumin and immunoglobulins. Donations in 2022, attested to 843 thousand kg of plasma, are in fact 19 thousand kg less than in 2021.

Source: Vanity Fair

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