Asian Journal of Transfusion Science
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Year : 2014  |  Volume : 8  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 67
Barriers to blood donation among non-European migrants in Italy

1 Servizio Immunotrasfusionale, Ulss5 Ovest Vicentino, Arzignano Hospital, Montecchio Maggiore, Italy
2 Servizio di Mediazione Culturale, Ulss5 Ovest Vicentino, Montecchio Maggiore, Italy

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Date of Web Publication7-Feb-2014

How to cite this article:
Raja ML, Amoroso A, Gonzo MM. Barriers to blood donation among non-European migrants in Italy. Asian J Transfus Sci 2014;8:67

How to cite this URL:
Raja ML, Amoroso A, Gonzo MM. Barriers to blood donation among non-European migrants in Italy. Asian J Transfus Sci [serial online] 2014 [cited 2023 Jan 28];8:67. Available from:


The health district No. 5 in Veneto region, inhabited by 181,060 residents in 2011, is one of the most industrialized areas of Italy and during the last 20 years this favored a sustained immigration from extra-European countries, mostly from Southern Asia (60%), India and Bangladesh in particular, and from Africa (36%). In 2011 about 9.1% of official residents in the district were immigrants from non-European countries. To assess the access to blood donation among non-European migrants was therefore relevant in this context.

Data on blood donations from 2002 to 2011 were extracted from the district blood bank database while demographic data on resident population were obtained from the public health registry. A qualitative investigation on possible barriers that prevent migrants from donating blood was conducted utilizing the focus group method. [1] Two focus-groups of non-European migrants were organized: one was composed by 11 blood donors and the other by 10 trained cultural mediators.

The data showed that in our district blood donations from non-European migrants increased from 6 units in 2002 (0.08% out of total donations) to 96 donations (0.75%) in 2011. Blood donations from Italian donors increased from 7624 (99.75%) in 2002 to 12,626 (98.13%) in 2011. Donations from other European citizens increased from 12 units (0.15% out of total) in 2002 to 144 donations (1.12%) in 2011.

In 2011, the donation rate among non-European migrants remained low, 6 units/1000 residents, compared to 82/1000 among the Italian residents and 12/1000 among other European residents.

These findings were presented and discussed in the two focus groups. Six barriers to blood donation were identified:

  • language barriers during blood donor selection;
  • lack of information on utilization of donated blood;
  • lack of direct experience of donation in the country of origin;
  • lack of information in the workplace;
  • prejudicial attitudes by some members of the health staff;
  • high rate of deferrals due to malaria risk.

Some possible targeted interventions were identified in the focus groups in order to improve access to blood donation.

As far as language difficulties are concerned an initiative was launched by the Punjabi community and now leaflets in Punjabi language are available in all blood collection centres of our district.

Health staff in charge of the blood donor selection will be trained to communicate effectively with recently migrated people and involvement of migrants as volunteers or donor carers is under consideration.

The report of "prejudicial" attitudes by some of the health staff during the selection process may be explained by the communication barriers, but also by the misperception of increased risk of transfusion transmissible infections (TTI). There are however no evidences of higher incidence of TTI among repeated donors from migrant communities neither in our context nor in others. [2],[3]

As far as malaria is concerned up to now malaria antibody testing [4] has not been foreseen by Italian transfusion law and medical history of previous malaria is still a cause of permanent deferral from whole blood donation. Utilizing a malarial antibody test is a strategy that may reduce unnecessary deferrals.

In conclusion, as the voluntary blood donation is a small, but significant step in the complex process of integration between migrant and host communities, commitment is needed from all sections involved. A long-term vision and a mid-term strategy in this direction are needed.

   References Top

1.Kitzinger J. Qualitative research. Introducing focus groups. BMJ 1995;311:299-302.  Back to cited text no. 1
2.Brant LJ, Reynolds C, Byrne L, Davison KL. Hepatitis B and residual risk of infection in English and Welsh blood donors, 1996 through 2008. Transfusion 2011;51:1493-502.  Back to cited text no. 2
3.Grassineau D, Papa K, Ducourneau A, Duboz P, Boëtsch G, Chiaroni J. Improving minority blood donation: Anthropologic approach in a migrant community. Transfusion 2007;47:402-9.  Back to cited text no. 3
4.Seed CR, Kee G, Wong T, Law M, Ismay S. Assessing the safety and efficacy of a test-based, targeted donor screening strategy to minimize transfusion transmitted malaria. Vox Sang 2010;98:e182-92.  Back to cited text no. 4

Correspondence Address:
Massimo La Raja
Servizio Immunotrasfusionale, Ulss5 Ovest Vicentino, Arzignano Hospital
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0973-6247.126707

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2006 - Asian Journal of Transfusion Science | Published by Wolters Kluwer - Medknow
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