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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Phlebotomy and its effect on the work output of athletes Dennison, John David


The purpose of this study was to determine the effect of blood donation upon the work output of University athletes. Further, to determine whether the effect is physiological or psychological, suitable controls were exercised over the subjects. A suitable test item representing a specific measure of work output was predetermined for the study. Twenty members of various University of British Columbia athletic teams were selected and equated into two groups of ten using their performance on the test item as a basis for division. The test item consisted of making as many pedal revolutions as possible over a two minute period on a standard bicycle ergometer set at a resistance of 14 kilograms. Both groups were taken to the Blood Donation Clinic where the control group had 500 cc of blood removed. The experimental group underwent an identical procedure but no blood was drawn. Careful controls at the clinic ensured that neither group was aware of what occurred. Later questioning indicated that both groups believed all subjects had given blood. All subjects were retested under standard conditions two hours, twenty-four hours and seven days after blood donation. Results were subjected to standard statistical analysis. The control group showed a significant gain in performance in the test item in all subsequent tests. The experimental group also showed a significant gain in performance in the test item in all subsequent tests. At no stage was any significant difference found to exist between the two groups. It was concluded that under the conditions of the study, blood donation does not deleteriously affect the performance of athletes in an item involving a short period of muscular work. In fact, the mean performance was significantly improved. No psychological effect was found in the group which believed that it had donated blood.

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