Encouraging over 50s to roll up their sleeves for blood and plasma donations

Image supplied by Australian Red Cross Lifeblood.
Image supplied by Australian Red Cross Lifeblood.
University of Queensland researchers are working with Australian Red Cross Lifeblood to increase the number of people aged over 50 who start donating blood.

Professor Barbara Masser from UQ’s School of Psychology said the focus of the research was to recruit and retain older blood and plasma donors.

"We want to understand the factors that influence people aged over 50 to donate blood and how their involvement can be managed to maintain their health, wellbeing and social connections," Professor Masser said.

"Our research will identify the motivations and barriers to donating blood by seeking perspectives from those who regularly donate, those who don’t, and Australian Red Cross Lifeblood staff.

"Our aim is to further understand if there are any misconceptions about donating once you reach 50.

"With this information we can create tailored resources to encourage greater involvement in blood donation from this cohort."

United Nations data estimates by 2050, around 40 per cent of Australia’s population will be aged over 50.

Professor Masser said although older Australians are healthy by international standards, an ageing population will increase demand for blood-product treatments, which could lead to blood shortages across the country.

"To address these concerns, people over 50 are the ideal target market to engage as they are known to donate more regularly and have fewer adverse events than younger donors," Professor Masser said.

"Of the over 50s donating blood, more than 75 per cent return for a second donation.

"Donating blood has also been linked to improved social connections, feelings of validation and more positive self-perceptions of ageing.

"However, recruitment of blood donors has historically focused on young people, indicating there is a large untapped market and missed opportunities for a regular blood donor base within this older age bracket."

The research is being conducted in partnership with Australian Red Cross Lifeblood and received funding from the Australian Research Council’s Linkage Projects grant scheme.