A survey by Laboratorio Adolescenza, Istituto Iard and Avis on over 10 thousand children between the ages of 12 and 19 highlights the negative psychological impact of the pandemic
Did the relationship between adolescents and blood donation change in the annus horribilis of the pandemic? The Covid-19 emergency, with all that it has brought with it from the social and psychological point of view, it increased the sense of solidarity (do you remember the “we’ll all get better” from the early days of the lockdown?) or raised the psychological defenses making us see danger everywhere, even in a gesture that we know is safe like donating blood? Some information comes from the 2021 edition of the annual survey on the lifestyles of adolescents living in Italy – carried out by Laboratorio Adolescenza and IARD research institute with the collaboration, as regards this specific aspect, of Avis (Association of Italian Blood Volunteers) – and, above all, of the comparison with the results of the investigations that Avis and Laboratorio Adolescenza had carried out in the past years.
The sample examined
The answer provided by a huge national sample of over 10,500 adolescents between the ages of 12 and 19, apparently contradictory, is that Covid has simultaneously approached and distanced adolescents from donating blood. From the «ideal» point of view, the sense of collective solidarity which approaches blood donation (however, traditionally already high among adolescents) it increased further. Beyond the 93% of the teenagers interviewed stated that «donating blood is an important gesture of altruism and solidarity», A percentage that reaches over 95% among girls. In the pre-Covid survey (2019) the percentage stopped at 88%. As well as the percentage of adolescents has increased substantially who is aware that “Donating blood is an action that most people could do” (69% in 2017; 84.4% today).
Only 13% of teenagers plan to become a donor
However, when we move from theory to practice, fears are felt. 22.6% of 13-14 year olds in 2019 said: “I will certainly become a blood donor when I grow up”, while today the percentage has dropped to just over 13%. Comfort that among high school students – by age closest to the possibility of becoming a donor or already of age – the percentage reaches 22.5% (25% among girls), even if for the boys of this age group there is no comparison with previous years. “The awareness of young people on the ethical and social value of donation – he comments Gianpietro Briola president of national Avis – is the comforting starting point on which to base ourselves to build, together, a society of the future that is ever more supportive and attentive to the needs of the community. On the one hand, the pandemic has made us understand that, in the face of emergencies, each of us, young or old, has made himself available, with a sense of responsibility, to provide his own contribution; however, the data tells us that we still need to do a lot and work harder, above all to give confidence to citizens and, in particular, to young people ».
More information and planning is needed
That the greater “prudence” in seeing each other donors in the future (for the youngest) or in starting to do so (for the neo-adults) is a Covid effect can be seen from the answer to a key question posed in the survey: whether 18.6% states that according to her / him blood donation “is always carried out in total safety regardless of Covid-19”, 44.7% is convinced that “We need to be much more careful in the structures where blood is donated.” Reassure them, and why blood is not a transmission vehicle for Covid-19, both because even in full health emergency the donation of blood – which fortunately never stopped – was always done in total safety, it is certainly part of “that further commitment” to which the president of Avis refers, who adds : «Young people, even before our future, are our present and s
ta it is up to us to help and train them to ensure that tomorrow’s society is ever more proactive and supportive. But to do this we must also have a National Health Service capable of transmitting trust and that is increasingly attentive to everyone’s needs. Particularly, regarding the donation of blood and plasma, of which the new generations are a very important pillar, the concept of emergency must be definitively abandoned to make room for the programming of services, the only way to never be caught unprepared ».
More aware and informed girls
Returning to the survey, it is interesting to observe that l
e girls, at all ages considered by the sample, prove to be more aware and informed than boys as well as – as already pointed out – more oriented towards imagining future donors from now on. From a territorial point of view adolescents from the South and the Islands are the most willing to donate blood and also those who, in a higher percentage, recognize the great social value of the donation, but they are also the most “frightened” by the donation in time of Covid-19. Greater distrust, in general, in “health” and in everything that more or less directly refers to it? Regarding the age group, with growth, awareness increases and false fears decrease, but the differences, for example, between high school students and those of technical and professional institutes are (to the advantage of the former) very sensitive. This is also an important indicator to guide that work to raise awareness among young people about blood donation which appears essential to face the future serenely.
November 8, 2021 (change November 8, 2021 | 17:15)