Physiological stress response patterns during a blood donation

M D Hoogerwerf, I J T Veldhuizen, M P Tarvainen, E-M Merz, E M J Huis In 't Veld, W L A M de Kort, J K Sluiter, M H W Frings-Dresen

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

    8 Citations (Scopus)


    BACKGROUND: Donating blood is associated with increased psychological stress. This study investigates whether a blood donation induces physiological stress and if response patterns differ by gender, donation experience and non-acute stress.

    STUDY DESIGN AND METHODS: In 372 donors, physiological stress [blood pressure, pulse rate, pulse rate variability (PRV)] was measured at seven moments during routine donation. PRV was assessed using time domain [root mean square of successive differences (RMSSD)] and frequency domain [high frequency (HF) and low frequency (LF) power] parameters. Non-acute stress was assessed by questionnaire. Shape and significance of time course patterns were assessed by fitting multilevel models for each stress measure and comparing men and women, first-time and experienced donors, and donors with high and low levels of non-acute stress.

    RESULTS: Significant response patterns were found for all stress measures, where levels of systolic blood pressure (F(1,1315) = 24·2, P < 0·001), RMSSD (F(1,1315) = 24·2, P < 0·001), LF (F(1,1627) = 14·1, P < 0·001) and HF (F(1,1624) = 34·0, P < 0·001) increased towards needle insertion and then decreased to values lower than when arriving at the donation centre. Diastolic blood pressure (F(1,1326) = 50·9, P < 0·001) increased and pulse rate (F(1,1393) = 507·4, P < 0·001) showed a U-shaped curve. Significant group effects were found, that is, higher systolic blood pressure/pulse rate in women; higher pulse rate in first-time donors; higher RMSSD at arrival and from screening until leaving in first-time donors; and higher LF and HF in first-time donors.

    CONCLUSION: This study shows an increase in physiological stress related to needle insertion, followed by a decrease when leaving the donation centre. Some group effects were also found.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)357-367
    Number of pages11
    JournalVox Sanguinis
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - 2018


    • Adult
    • Blood Donors
    • Blood Pressure
    • Female
    • Heart Rate
    • Humans
    • Male
    • Stress, Physiological
    • Stress, Psychological/etiology


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