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European Conference on Donor Health and Management: our experiences

How do we attract people to become blood or plasma donors? How can we make sure donors keep coming back after they made their first donation? And what role can sustainability play in our donor recruitment and retention efforts? How does the social network of a donor influence their donation behavior?

Arrival in Vienna

These questions, and many more, were discussed during the 5th European

Conference on Donor Health and Management (ECDHM) that took place September 7-9 in Vienna, Austria. After a 16-hour train ride, all 7 of us arrived at the conference to share our research results and to learn from other researchers, medical staff and marketing colleagues from all over the world (including the United States and Australia!).

Samira at the poster presentations

The first day of the conference is traditionally reserved for the so-called PhD courses, where PhD students like Samira, Caroline, and Alexandra had the opportunity to receive feedback on their research plans from distinguished experts in the field. These sessions provided invaluable insights and offered a unique platform for personalized guidance on their doctoral projects. In the meanwhile, other attendees (including Marloes) participated in a session on the role of sustainability in donor recruitment and retention. For Marloes, the main take-away from this session was that we need to practice what we preach (to avoid claims of greenwashing). In the afternoon, Caroline, Joris, and Alexandra together hosted a workshop on bridging the gap between research and practice, aimed at encouraging better cooperation and communication between research and operational departments within blood banks.

Day 2 of the conference started with the official opening and a keynote speech by our Donor Health colleague Katja van den Hurk, followed by parallel sessions about a diversity of topics. Joris presented results of his study about the effects of a group-membership program (which is used in Australia) on donation behavior. At the same time, Louisanne presented her research plans about the ethical implications of advanced (cell) therapies for hereditary anemias. In a third parallel session, Alexandra showed the audience the preliminary results of her latest project and how a serious game can raise knowledge and awareness about plasma donation among children and adolescents in the Netherlands. Later in the day, Caroline provided an overview of incentive policies for whole blood donors in 63 different countries across the globe.

Joris presenting his research findings

The third and final day of the conference was reserved for special sessions. One special session was dedicated to the SUPPLY project, in which Eva-Maria and Marloes are involved in a work package about donor recruitment and retention. Finally, Marloes organized a special session about innovation in plasma donation, which included both research and operational colleagues. In this session, Marloes shared the first results of her study about the impact of a new loyalty program on donor perceptions and donation behavior.

We look back at an excellent conference where we had fruitful discussions with international colleagues and learned many new things that we can apply in our own work.


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