There is typically a shortage of donated blood in the United States and researchers at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland are analyzing data involving over 14,000 blood drives in northern Ohio to learn more about that.
Nicola Lacetera of the university's Weatherhead School of Management notes that about 38 percent of U.S. adults are eligible to donate blood, but only 8 percent do. Many of those who donate blood once don't donate again, and there are some population segments that very rarely give blood.
Some say gifts of T-shirts, lapel pins, coupons or gift cards might increase blood donation motivation but others say those who donate for the public good might not want to be rewarded, Lacetera says.
The biggest incentive for blood donation is to do something good for humanity after a crisis that gets national attention, such as after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in the United States or the recent earthquakes in Chile and Haiti.
"There is a general perception that you need blood for emergencies or an organ transplant," Lacetera says in a statement. "Most of the blood needed every day is for chronic conditions, such as for cancer patients. Therefore, blood is needed every day."