Caring for Those Who Share

Identifying and improving the health of Wisconsin blood donors identified with anemia

Full Project Name:Caring for Those Who Share: Improving the health of Wisconsin blood donorsPrimary Community Organization:National Anemia Action Council, Inc.Primary Academic Partner:Kenneth Schellhase, MD, MPH, Family and Community MedicineAward Amount:$47,208
Award Date
July2008
Project Duration:12 months

Project Description Narrative:


Blood donors are a precious community resource. At the BloodCenter of Wisconsin (BCW) over 8,000 donors per month are encountered from 27 counties across Wisconsin. As a part of the donor qualification process, an individual's blood is tested for anemia. Each month, approximately 200 men and 600 women over age 50 are identified with anemia at BCW. As a result, these individuals are not able to donate blood, and are currently only given a pamphlet about iron-rich foods. However, anemia can signal serious underlying disease such as colorectal cancer (CRC). CRC is the third leading cause of cancer death in Wisconsin, leading to more than 1,000 deaths in 2006. Up to 29% of individuals with asymptomatic anemia may have either pre-cancerous or cancerous colon lesions, suggesting that may of the individual found to have anemia when attempting to donate blood at Blood Center of Wisconsin may have CRS.

Through this award, project partners aim to improve the health of blood donors identified with anemia by not only educating them regarding the condition, but motivating them to seek medical follow-up care.

Community partners:
Blood Center of Wisconsin

Additional MCW academic partners:
Anne Marbella, MS, Family and Community Medicine; Staci Young, PhD, Family and Community Medicine

Outcomes & Lessons Learned:


• Used qualitative data analysis to develop new educational materials that included community-specific health care resources to help deferred donors access medical care

• Partnered with six donor sites to provide deferred donors with their blood count as well as new educational materials rather than the existing nutritional pamphlet

• Tested effectiveness of educational brochures by surveying deferred donors whether they sought further evaluation and treatment of their anemia, the outcome of their treatment, as well as the barriers encountered in accessing care and how they were overcome

• Authored and submitted article to the Journal of Transmission related to findings from focus groups used to inform the educational materials

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