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New study identifies barriers to blood donation from ethnic minorities 

By Reporter - 17th Jun 2022

Dr Helen Fogarty and RCSI students

Lack of information is one of the barriers to people from ethnic minorities in Ireland donating blood, according to a new study.

The study by RCSI University of Medicine and Health Sciences has identified barriers and motivators to blood donation for people from ethnic minority groups in Ireland.

The results revealed that barriers to blood donations among non-Caucasian respondents included lack of information and a history of living in a malaria-endemic region.

Factors that were found to motivate people from minority ethnic backgrounds to give blood included religious reasons and a desire to help others in their own communities.

The findings are published this week in the journal ‘Blood Transfusion’, in advance of World Sickle Cell Day on Sunday, 19 June.

“The timing of this research is crucial. Ireland has experienced major blood shortages recently with the result that for the first time in over 30 years, blood has been imported from the UK,” said lead researcher, Dr Helen Fogarty, School of Pharmacy and Biomolecular Sciences, RCSI.

“There is an urgent need now to increase blood donations, including from people from minority ethnic groups.

“The results of this study help us to understand why these groups are under-represented and will help us to include people from different ethnic backgrounds  in blood donation  in  future, making a huge difference for all patients who need blood transfusions.”

The study entitled ‘Motivators and barriers to blood donation among potential donors of African and Caucasian ethnicity’ is the first of its kind to explore the issue of ethnic differences in blood donations across different ethnic groups in Ireland.

The RCSI said the findings will help with future campaigns to recruit donors of diverse ethnic backgrounds in Ireland, increasing provision of blood for transfusion and improving patient care.

The study was developed as part of the RCSI Student Innovation Challenge during the RCSI Research Summer School 2021. Over 380 people took part in the survey that aimed to identify motivators and barriers to blood donation.

RCSI students and RCSI Student Innovation Challenge winners Muskan Sardana, Luke Sheridan, Phoebe Chieng and Sarah Kelly are co-authors on the paper.

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