Iron supplementation: A qualitative study on the perception of blood donors, blood collection staff and donor physicians

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Background and Objectives: Iron supplementation is an effective strategy to mitigate donation-induced iron deficiency in blood donors. However, evidence on the perception of individuals involved in blood donation on iron supplementation as a blood service policy is lacking. This study aimed to evaluate the knowledge and perception of whole blood donors (donors), blood collection staff (collection staff) and donor physicians (physicians) regarding donation-induced iron loss and iron supplementation. Materials and Methods: Online focus group discussions had four to six participants and followed a structured questioning approach. All participants had to be fluent in Dutch to participate, and donors had donated at least five times. Sixteen donors, eight collection staff members and four physicians participated in this study. Recordings were transcribed, coded and analysed using a grounded theory approach. Results: Awareness of donation-induced iron loss was limited in donors. Donors and physicians were predominantly positive towards iron supplementation; the primary motivator for donors was to prevent deferral and reduce iron-deficiency-related symptoms. Improving donor health was the main argument for physicians to advocate iron supplementation. Staff had a critical view on iron supplementation as a policy, as they perceived it as unethical and possibly ineffective. A knowledge gap might underlie their concerns. Conclusion: Most individuals involved in blood donation are positive towards iron supplementation as a blood service policy. If implemented, guidance and monitoring is desired and adequate education of all stakeholders is required.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)16-26
Number of pages11
JournalVox sanguinis
Issue number1
Early online date2023
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2024


  • blood donation
  • focus group discussion
  • iron deficiency
  • iron supplementation

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