Blood donation generally is seen as a safe, voluntary and socially useful activity, based on the altruism of donors. A number of positive effects of blood donation are described in scientific literature, such as feelings of satisfaction, feelings of being more alert and feeling better in general.

However, the majority of the literature concerning blood donation describes negative experiences, such as fatigue, vasovagal symptoms, fainting, bruises or hematomas. Besides the pain, anxiety or fear exhibited by the donor, this might also impede people from donating blood in the future. Also, it might trigger a stress reaction.

Stress reactions are quite common phenomena. When someone is confronted with a stressful situation, a stress reaction occurs. Factors inducing such a stress reaction, known as stressors or stress stimuli, are thought to be diverse, meaning that every situation or every object might elicit a stress reaction, whereas the stress experience might differ between individuals and circumstances. Recent research has also shown that even anticipatory stress (worrying about what is to come) causes physiological arousal, thereby inducing stress reactions in blood. Reaction include increases in heart rate, blood pressure and cortisol, but also relate to changes in blood clotting, platelet activation and increases in clotting factors. Therefore, acute psychological stress in voluntary blood donors may have an effect on the quality of donated whole blood and the derived blood products, such as platelets, plasma and red blood cells.

Unfortunately, up till now it remains largely unclear if there is a relation between blood donation and stress. Therefore, we will investigate the effects of blood donation related stress for the donor, by combining physiological (heart rate, heart rate variability, blood pressure), hormonal (cortisol), and psychological measurements (stress, anxiety) in immediate conjunction with the bloodletting procedure. In addition we want to study the possible effects of donation stress in donors by measuring coagulation and platelet activity. If donation stress does indeed affect hemostasis in the donor, we will also investigate the effect of donation stress on the collected blood product(s).

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