Exploration of Psychological Approaches to Reduce Pain and Anxiety Associated with Blood Donation

Location: Melbourne CBD, VIC

Duration: 5 months

Keywords: Health-care, Pain prevention, Qualitative study design, Patient care

Proposed start date: 01 July 2018

Project Background

Fear of needles and concern about pain are commonly reported barriers to blood donation, with many people reporting that these concerns prevent them from donating blood. This anxiety is also reported by some people who actually donate blood, particularly by less experienced donors. Of concern, anxiety and a painful phlebotomy is associated with an increased risk of vasovagal symptoms, such as faintness, dizziness or nausea, and donors with a negative donation experience are less likely to return to donate.

Evidence-based strategies to effectively reduce pain and anxiety associated with blood donation are required. Traditional medical approaches to pain management, such as numbing creams and local anaesthetic, are not suitable for this setting, and there is limited information available about psychological approaches. Strategies need to be effective, feasible for routine administration by blood collection staff, and acceptable to both donors and staff.

Research to be Conducted

Objective 1: Review the literature on blood donation, and related medical/health/psychological literatures, to determine a variety of strategies that could be applied to address the problem of anxiety and pain related to blood donation.

Objective 2: Design a study to gain the perspectives of blood collection staff and donors on the feasibility and acceptability of potential strategies for use in the blood donation setting.

Objective 3: Write a report for the Blood Service with recommendations for strategies to reduce anxiety and pain that are suitable for use in the blood donation setting.

All resources required to conduct this project will be provided by the Blood Service. The student will be supported by the multidisciplinary Donor Research team based at the Blood Service.

Skills Required

We are looking for a PhD student with the following skills:


  • Expertise in the prevention of acute pain using non-pharmacological approaches or in the reduction of anxiety associated with medical procedures.
  • Expertise in the design, conduct, and analysis of qualitative research, ideally in a health-care setting.

Expected Outcomes

The expected outcomes of this project include (i) a review of the literature on pain and anxiety management strategies suitable for consideration in the blood donation setting; (ii) a research protocol and ethics application for an investigation of the perspectives of blood collection staff and donors on potential strategies to reduce pain and anxiety in blood donation; (iii) final presentation and report to key stakeholders at the Blood Service.

The report will include recommendations for the Blood Service. These recommendations are expected to inform future research and business practices (e.g., indicate strategies that can be introduced into routine practice in donor centres, or provide support for an efficacy trial to be conducted by the Blood Service).

Additional Details

The intern will receive $3,000 per month of the internship, usually in the form of stipend payments.

It is expected that the intern will primarily undertake this research project during regular business hours, spending at least 80% of their time on-site with the industry partner.  The intern will be expected to maintain contact with their academic mentor throughout the internship either through face-to-face or phone meetings as appropriate.

The intern and their academic mentor will have the opportunity to negotiate the project’s scope, milestones and timeline during the project planning stage.

To participate in the APR.Intern program, all applicants must satisfy the following criteria:

  • Be a PhD student currently enrolled at an Australian university
  • PhD candidature must be confirmed
  • Applicants must have the written approval of their Principal Supervisor to undertake the internship. This approval must be submitted at the time of application.
  • Internships are also subject to any requirements stipulated by the student’s and the academic mentor’s university
Applications Close

Applications currently being accepted


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