UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Social capital, trust foundation and risk construction as social determinants of blood donation Fiddler, Jay A.


Understanding blood donor motivation has been the focus of much research in the past decade. To date the majority of this research has focused on individual factors related to altruism and "altruistic identity". Although important, such knowledge has been unable to produce an increase in blood donors. One aspect of blood donation that has been under-explored is the role of social determinants in blood donation. Current data demonstrates the demographic differences in blood donor rates by race, ethnicity, gender, age, geographic locale, community and income. Such findings suggest that it is important to understand how social factors influence donation. Thus, this paper is premised on the idea that blood donation is best understood through an examination of the social context in which decision to donate blood occur. In order to conceptualize the social context of blood donation, I utilized the theoretical perspectives of social capital, trust foundation and risk analysis. Such perspectives provided an important framework with which to understand both donation and non-donation. Current CBS data indicates that community-based donation programs are more effective at stimulating continued donation than are individual-based programs. As well, academic literature has demonstrated that issues of trust and perceptions of risk are mediated when donation occurs in a community-based setting. Such findings challenge the notion of individual altruism as the main explanatory factor in blood donation. Instead, demonstrating how social factors including community and social network relationships provide motivation to donate that altruistic appeals do not. Therefore, decisions to donate cannot be removed from the social context in which such decisions occur.

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