PsychologicalReports, 1990, 66, 867-870.

O Psychological Reports 1990


Auburn Universi~at Montgomery Summary.-Subjects self-identified as occasional blood donors or nondonors completed a survey to estimate differences in attitudes about donating blood. Subjects who had never donated blood were more likely than occasional donors to doubt that the blood supply was free of the AIDS virus, more likely to worry about contracting AIDS through blood transfusions or blood donations, and more likely to have an aversion to venipuncture ~rocedures.No differences were observed between groups on fear of having an AIDS test, current worry about having the AIDS virus, or belief that AIDS can be contracted from transfused blood. Implications for increasing blood donations during the AIDS crisis are discussed.

As Winslow (1988) points out, the AIDS crisis has generated fear and influenced the behavior of the noninfected "social audience of the disease" (p. 110). Among the many unfortunate consequences of the AIDS epidemic has been a decline in blood donations. Unrealistic fear of infection with the AIDS virus has been implicated in the decline of blood donations (Lipsitz, Kallmeyer, Ferguson, & Abas, 1989) as well as a variety of avoidance behaviors in the work setting (O'Brien, 1989). Hardy (1989) reported that less than half of her large sample of noninstitutionalized adults believed that the blood supply was safe from contamination by the AIDS virus. Only 15% of the sample had donated blood since 1985 when routine screening of blood donations for HIV began. Many communities have experienced shortages of blood and blood products, thereby jeopardizing an adequate response to medical emergencies. Fear of AIDS and understanding of methods of transmission varies greatIy according to the characteristics of the sample studied. Harkin and Hurley (1988) found that 27% of their sample of Irish adults was worried about contracting AIDS, but only 14% believed that the virus could be transmitted by donating blood. Of the black residents of Washington, DC, 57% were concerned about AIDS as a personal health problem, and 64% believed that donating blood could transmit the AIDS virus. Surveys of college students have indicated satisfactory knowledge of the primary methods of t r a n s ~ t t i n gthe AIDS virus (Gottlieb, Vacahs, Palmer, & Conlon, 'This research was partially supported by a grant from the Auburn University at Montgomery +arch Grant-in-Aid Program. I am grateful to Dr. Sami Gul oz and anonymous reviewers for helpful critiques of earlier drafts of this paper. ~orresponcknce regarding this article should be directed to Steven G. LoBeUo, Department of Psychology, Auburn University at Montgomery, 7300 University Dr., Montgomery, Alabama 36117-3596.

1988; Winslow, 1988). Although greater education is associated with greater knowledge of AIDS (Seltzer, 1989), Royse, Dhooper, and Hatch (1987) reported high fear of AIDS in a sample of the graduate and the undergraduate students. The purpose of this study was to assess whether blood donors differ from nondonors in their understanding of AIDS and its relationship to donating blood. Because Burnett (1981) has reported that women are less likely to donate blood than men, sex differences in AIDS attitudes will also be explored.

METHOD Subjects were 154 male and female undergraduate psychology students who agreed to complete a questionnaire in exchange for additional course credit. Five questionnaires were incomplete or incorrectly marked and were excluded from the analysis, which reduced the sample size to 149. There were 59 men and 90 women in the sample whose average age was 19.6 yr. (SD = 4, range = 17-46 yr.). Both white and black subjects participated in the study. Subjects anonymously completed a brief questionnaire3 consisting of one item about actual past blood donating and seven Likert-scale items about various attitudes about AIDS. The first scale item asked subjects to identify themselves as either a regular donor, an occasional donor, a former donor who would not give blood now, or a lifetime nondonor. The remaining six items required a rating on the five-point Likert scale indicating strength of agreement with the attitudinal statements (1= strongly agree; 5 = strongly disagree). Representative statements measured current worry about having AIDS, desire to be tested for AIDS, belief that donating blood can lead to AIDS, and fear of being stuck with needles.

RESULTS Analysis of the questionnaire responses indicated that 66.4% of the subjects had never donated blood (n = 99) and 23 5% of the subjects identified themselves as occasional donors (n = 35). Furthermore, almost 70% of the nondonors were women. Nine subjects (6.04%) were regular blood donors, and only six subjects (4.03%) had given blood in the past but had stopped. Because so few subjects were included in the latter two categories, data from their questionnaires were excluded from analysis. Mean scores on each of the attitude statements were compared with mean differences between groups. Nondonors were more likely than donors to believe that the blood supply was not safe from the AIDS virus (t,,, = 2.52, p < . 0 5 ) While both groups were equally aware of the possibility of 'Requests for copies of the attitude scale may be directed to the author; see Footnote 2



AIDS transmission via blood transfusion, nondonors were more likely to report that they would worry about contacting AIDS if they were to receive a blood transfusion (t,,,= -4.00, p< .005). Nondonors expressed a stronger belief than the donors that AIDS could be contracted by donating blood (t,,, = -3.66, p < .001). Nondonors also reported a stronger fear of being stuck with needles (t,,, = -5.06, p < .005). There were no differences between groups in degree of current worry about actually having AIDS or the desire to be tested for the AIDS virus. TABLE 1 MEANRATINGS A N D STANDARD DEVIATIONS OF A T ~ T U DSTATEMENTS E FORDONORSAND NONDONORS Attitude Statements

Donors, n: 35 M

Blood supply safe from AIDS Can get AIDS from transfusion Would worry about AIDS iE transfused Worried about having AIDS Can get AIDS by donating blood Afraid of needles Afraid to be tested for AIDS

3.1 2.5 3.1 4.1 4.4 4.0 3.9

SD .9 1.4 1.3 1.2 1.0 1.2 1.1

Nondonors, n: 99 M


2.7* 2.1 2.1* 3.9 3.7* 2.7* 3.6

.9 1.4 1.2 1.2

1.2 1.5 1.1

*p < .05.

Additional data analyses were performed to assess AIDS-related attitude differences between the female and male subjects. Significant differences were found between women and men on three of the measures. Women were more likely than men to doubt the safety of the blood supply (t,,, = 2.87, p

Differences between blood donors and nondonors in AIDS-related attitudes.

Subjects self-identified as occasional blood donors or nondonors completed a survey to estimate differences in attitudes about donating blood. Subject...
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