Thesis defense Elisabeth Klinkenberg – Recruiting blood donors of African descent

Published on October 7, 2020 – Blood groups differ strongly between ethnic groups. Therefore, it is important that the donor population is diverse enough to give matching blood products to everyone when necessary. However, there is a shortage of blood donors of African descent. But why?

Tuesday the 6th of October 2020, Dr. Elisabeth Klinkenberg successfully defended her thesis entitled “Engaging African Ethnic Minorities as Blood Donors”. She did research on factors that explain why there is a shortage of blood donors of African descent, and how this important target group can be recruited.

The most important personal factor was not being aware of the Dutch blood bank organizations and the need for blood. Research participants reported that in their country of origin more visible, pressing and direct appeals were used to engage people in donating blood. This created the expectation that the Dutch blood bank organization would come to them if their blood was needed, while this approach is not common in the Netherlands. Other important factors were related to fear, altruistic feelings and the (in)convenience of donating blood.

When recruited, African donors seem more likely to stop donating blood than other donors. There are multiple factors identified that make a donor career more difficult for this important target group, such as an increased risk to be temporarily or permanently deferred to donate blood due to language barriers or a low hemoglobin level.

Finally, Dr. Klinkenberg developed recruitment strategies using the Intervention Mapping protocol, and implemented a campaign on social media resulting in roughly 350 new blood donors.

Research reported in this thesis was conducted at the Department of Donor Medicine Research, Sanquin Research, Amsterdam, and the department of Public Health, Amsterdam UMC, location AMC, University of Amsterdam, in collaboration with the Department of Communication Science and ACHC, University of Amsterdam. Elisabeth Klinkenberg was supervised by her promotores Prof. Dr. Wim de Kort and ACHC director Prof. Dr. Julia van Weert and by her copromotores Dr. Mirjam Fransen and Dr. Elisabeth Huis in ’t Veld.  Research reported in this thesis was funded by the peer reviewed grant from Sanquin’s Fund for Product and Process Development Cellular Products.

The PhD thesis can be viewed online here.
The defense can be viewed online (in Dutch) here.