Beyond fear: A longitudinal investigation of emotions and risk of a vasovagal reaction in first-time whole-blood donors

Amanda Thijsen*, Barbara Masser, Tanya E. Davison, Anne van Dongen, Lisa A. Williams

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)
68 Downloads (Pure)


Background: Fear is a recognized predictor of vasovagal reactions (VVRs) in blood donors. However, less is known about the role of other emotions, including positive emotions, that donors might experience. The aim of this study was to identify the emotions experienced in center that predict onsite VVRs, and to determine at what point during the donation appointment, the experience of these emotions is most influential. Study design and methods: A sample of 442 first-time whole-blood donors (57.7% female; mean ± SD age 30.7 ± 11.7 years) completed a survey in the waiting area and before venepuncture in the donation chair to assess their current emotional experience. The survey data were matched with routinely-collected demographic, donation, and donor adverse event information. A generalized estimating equations model was used to identify emotions associated with the occurrence of a VVR. Results: A total of 56 (12.7%) participants experienced a VVR. The occurrence of a VVR was significantly associated with lower love/closeness/trust (OR: 0.53, 95%CI: 0.34–0.82) and higher scared/fearful/afraid (OR: 1.96, 95%CI: 1.18–3.25) states. Significant interaction effects suggested that the effect of scared/fearful/afraid decreased while stressed/nervous/overwhelmed increased from the waiting area to before venepuncture on the likelihood of a VVR. Discussion: To effectively reduce donor VVR risk, blood collection agencies need to address a broader range of emotions at different points during the donation process.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)163-170
Number of pages8
Issue number1
Early online date31 Oct 2022
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2023


  • Anxiety
  • Blood donation
  • Closeness
  • Emotion
  • Fear
  • Generalized estimating equations
  • New donor
  • Stress
  • Trust
  • Vasovagal reaction
  • Whole blood
  • 2023 OA procedure


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