Professor Eva-Maria Merz
& Sanquin Team
Professor Eva-Maria Merz
Eva combines her theoretical and applied expertise within the topic of blood donor behaviour in order to study donor life-courses and the influence of personal and social network characteristics across different contexts.
Dr Marloes Spekman
Marloes is a trained communication scientist specialised in persuasive communication (related to health and prosocial behaviour) and media psychology. Marloes’ research focuses on the behaviour and experiences of whole blood and plasma donors.
Dr Steven Ramondt
Steven is a health communication and social computational scientist. His research interests include the information environment and its influence on determinants of health and behavior.
Joris M. Schröder
Joris is completing his PhD within the DONORS project, where he focusses on individual and social network related determinants of blood donor behaviour.
Caroline is a PhD student examining how contextual factors influence prosocial behaviour and what role societal differences play in shaping peoples’ motivations to do good.
In blood donor research, so far, there is limited attention for social embedding of donors or institutional and societal context in which donations take place. In their recent presentation at the DoRN Week of Talks, Eva and the Sanquin Team draw attention to two groups of factors, outside the individual, that might play a role in donor behavior. Strategies and policies on incentives encouraging blood donation and social embedding of blood donors.
To access their free talk, please click on the link below.
Q & As
The DoRN Week of Talks provided a unique opportunity to engage in an easy and convenient Q & A with presenters. Below we have listed the questions that we received for Eva and the Sanquin Team, along with their answers.
Given your findings on how blood donation is discussed in social media, what would be your key advice to blood collection agencies for using asymmetric social media (like twitter)?
First, I would like to note that I’m not a practical communication specialist and our goal was to map the social media environment and not test specific campaigns/appropriateness for social media platform, so take my advice with a grain of salt.
Simplified: we found more personal topics on Facebook, and more general (discussion) topics on Twitter. Our more general recruitment campaigns (e.g., campaigns focussing on missing blood types, and blood saves lives) were found mostly on Twitter. My key advice would be to use Twitter for campaigns that do not have a personal focus most appropriate for key demographics such as family and friends (more likely to be found at symmetrical networks such as Facebook). Not something with the aim of social contagion behavior (e.g., donors sharing that they donated). Twitter is promising for other campaigns as the asymmetrical nature makes that networks are often larger, and it is easier to spread beyond established relationships. The high prevalence of our more general campaigns found on Twitter support this.
Furthermore, I can share with you two recent successful campaigns/posts at Sanquin as these might provide some additional insights. Both campaigns/posts were successful on Twitter and are in line with the topics differences we find on asymmetrical and symmetrical networks. We conducted a campaign (#MyFirstBlood) aimed at gamers using the popular esports-game League of Legends. People who came in for a first appointment received a free piece of game content. Another campaign/post was highly shared during the early covid era, when blood shortage (due to covid) was announced, and donors were asked to come donate (see our recent article for more information on this: https://doi.org/10.1111/trf.16334).
Both these campaigns provide you with something (e.g., value in the #MyFirstBlood campaigns, and urgent need in case of the Covid posts) that you can easily share with your network that does not necessary consist of closer relationships (i.e., family and friends).
Lastly, I would like to note that research by Abassi et al. (2018) (https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tele.2017.01.010) shows that Twitter can also be a promising tool for personal blood donation requests and dissemination (urgent need again).
I'm wondering if you think there is a link between social security systems, or measures of inequality, and social norms around incentives in the context of a particular country? Is this something you might look at in future analyses?
I think that social security and inequality may indeed shape norms about providing incentives. We did not look into these two macro level factors specifically, but we do think that attitudes about incentives are shaped by various factors (including historical, cultural and economic ones). For example, one factor that we discuss also in the paper as a possible explanation for why norms regarding incentives vary is (post-) materialism. That is, countries that are in earlier stages of economic development and have more economic scarcity may be more concerned with materialist goals than non-materialist goals such as self-expression or autonomy. Economic development is then again related to how well societies can provide social security to its members. In general, the question of where these attitudes come from is extremely interesting, and researchers from many disciplines have explored this question. I would definitely be excited to be able to look into such factors in the future.
What kind of extra information did you provide to participants and how many actually completed the alternative good deed?
The extra information took the form of a brochure that contained the following elements:
– some general information about the usefulness of deferral policies to protect both donors and recipients
– some information about the most common reasons for deferral (low haemoglobin and travel-related infections)
– information about the option to do an online self-check to (hopefully) prevent future deferrals
– statement that the donor will receive a new invitation once they’re eligible again and their blood type is in demand, and that their return will be much appreciated
– Contact information for the donor information call centre in case of further questions.
With regard to the completion of alternative good deeds, we do not have the exact numbers as we didn’t track whether donors actually performed the alternative offered to them. We do however have a rough indication in the form of the number of questionnaires and cards that were returned, which was at around 252 questionnaires and 162 cards. To provide some context, we know that at least 176 donors were assigned to the questionnaire condition and at least 39 donors chose to fill out the questionnaire in the choice-condition, so more questionnaires were returned than one would expect. Similarly high number were seen for the cards, so we assume that the majority of donors did actually perform the offered alternative (plus some donors probably wanted in on the fun while they weren’t deferred).