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  • Writer's pictureKirk Hartley

Providing Economic Incentives for Blood Donations – Evidence on Pros and Cons

A May 2013 article from Science by Lacetera et al reviews evidence – as opposed to opinions and conjecture – and concludes that providing economic incentives for blood donor visits probably is a good idea. The conclusion section states:

"In light of the recent evidence, it is time to re-examine policy guidelines for increasing and smoothing blood supply, including whether incentives can play a role. There are efforts under way from different parts of society toward using rewards to increase donations. The U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals’ 2012 ruling legalizing compensation for bone marrow donations through apheresis was initiated by private individuals (32). A company prompted a 2010 European Court of Justice ruling that allowed importation of blood products obtained from compensated donors (33). Researchers and clinicians have noted that some WHO guidelines (e.g., emphasis on exclusive use of nonremunerated donors and centralizing blood collection organizations) are unintentionally adversely affecting blood collection in sub-Saharan Africa (34).

In addition to economic incentives, policy-makers should consider nonpecuniary rewards (e.g., symbolic and with social recognition) and various appeals. Debates on ethical issues around giving rewards for donations (35) should be encouraged. But there should be little debate that the most relevant empirical evidence shows positive effects of offering economic rewards on donations."

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