Vasovagal reactions experienced by some blood donors (eg, faintness, lightheadedness, and dizziness) have been shown to be related to a decreased likelihood of future blood donations. This study evaluated the efficacy of audiovisual distraction as a means of reducing self-reported physiological reactions in first-time blood donors. Because interventions that are consistent with an individual’s preferred coping style have been shown to be more effective at reducing physiological and psychological responses to stressful medical procedures, coping style (monitoring vs. blunting) was assessed as a possible moderating variable.
First-time blood donors were randomly assigned to one of two conditions: audiovisual distraction or no-treatment control. Participants in the distraction group donated blood at an American Red Cross blood drive while watching a three-dimensional video presentation on a personal visor and headset. The control group donated blood according to standard American Red Cross procedures. Score on a self-reported measure of physiological reactions completed immediately after donation served as the dependent variable.
Individuals who typically use blunting coping strategies to cope with stress reported an attenuation of vasovagal reactions to blood donation in the distraction vs. the control condition (t (49) = 2.29, p < .05), whereas donors who prefer a monitoring coping style did not benefit from distraction.
Among first-time blood donors, audiovisual distraction may be an effective means of reducing vasovagal reactions in donors who prefer to cope with stress using such strategies as distraction, denial, and reinterpretation.