Thesis defense Lisa Klinkenberg

Engaging African ethnic minorities as blood donors

On 6 October 2020 (15:00 hrs) Lisa Klinkenberg defended her PhD thesis 'Engaging African ethnic minorities as blood donors' at the University of Amsterdam

Prof WLAM de Kort MD PhD
Prof JCM van Weert PhD

EMJ Huis in ’t Veld PhD
MP Fransen PhD

Agnietenkapel, University of Amsterdam, and on-line


Blood donors of African descent are needed to safely treat chronic transfusion patients of similar ethnic background. However, ethnic minorities and migrants of African origin are underrepresented as blood donors in many Western high-income countries, which limits the availability of antigen-negative blood for transfusion. Increasing the diversity of the donor pool is a challenge and recruitment strategies had limited successes in the past. A systematic development of an intervention by following the Intervention Mapping protocol, might increase the chances of a successful donor recruitment intervention. This thesis addresses systematic research examining the problems and needs of the blood collection agency and the potential donors of African descent, and developing and testing strategies to recruit more blood donors of African origin.

In Part I, the overarching context of the Dutch blood collection agency in relation to blood donors of African descent is examined through the blood donor database and interviews with staff members. Main conclusions were that a limited number of African donors entered the donor pool and that a relatively high percentage exit the donor pool within five years. There were obstacles in the supply chain identified for migrant donors, which hinder to make optimal use of these needed, potentially antigen-negative donors. The main implications are to take these obstacles and limited retention into account, more attention on younger, second-generation donors as they are more likely to be eligible to donate blood, and aim to register donor ethnicity as it provides solutions to multiple obstacles in the supply chain.

In Part II, a systematic, cumulative approach was taken to examine personal blood donation factors, such as barriers and motivators. These donation barriers and motivators experienced by (potential) donors of African descent were explored through a systematic literature, qualitative- and quantitative studies. In short, these studies emphasize the lack of awareness in the African target group and the need for more awareness-raising activities. Other recurring determinants relate to fears, altruistic feelings and convenience factors related to practicalities and the ease of donating blood.

Based on the examination of contextual and individual factors described in Part I and Part II, strategies to recruit blood donors of African descent were developed and tested. A magazine pilot and social-media campaign demonstrated that awareness raising is important in donor motivation and recruitment. However, no clear-cut conclusion can be given based on the results of the social-media intervention with regards to which messages were more effective and whether they actually targeted the intended African target-group. However, we cautiously find in the donor database that the intervention seems to have resulted in relatively more African donors

The research in this thesis presents a basis for donor diversity research in Europe and highlights the need for more systematically designed interventions to improve blood availability, so that patients in need of multiple blood receive a better quality of life.