Preferences and features of a blood donation smartphone app: A multicenter mixed-methods study in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

Elsevier, Computer Methods and Programs in Biomedicine Update, Volume 1, 2021, 100005
Afaf Ali Batis, Ahmed Albarrak

Background: Blood donation saves lives, and the communication between blood centers and donors plays a vital role in this. Smart apps are now considered an important communication tool, and could be best utilized in blood donation if they are designed to fit the users‟ needs and preferences. Objective: To identify the features and preferences of a blood donation smartphone app for blood donation centers and donors in Riyadh City, Saudi Arabia. Methods: This is a mixed-method study composed of a quantitative cross-sectional part (with donors, using a self-administered questionnaire), and a qualitative/quantitative part (with blood donation center staff, using semi-structured interviews). Data were collected between 15 November 2017 and 5 February 2018, from four blood donation centers in Riyadh City, Saudi Arabia. A descriptive analysis was used for the quantitative part and a thematic approach for the qualitative part. Results: Of 418 surveys distributed, 383 donors responded (91.6% response rate). Most participants were males (90.3 %). Less than half (40.5%) of the survey respondents described themselves as “comfortable with technology”. The top-rated features (by donors) were the ability to ask for donors when needed and the ability to locate the nearest blood center (70.8% and 67.8% considering these “useful” or “very useful”, respectively). Most (67%) donors claimed that they are “concerned” or “very concerned” about their personal information being used for other purposes, and a similar percentage of respondents (65.8%) agreed that they are concern about receiving too many alerts or messages. There was a significant decrease in the likelihood of using the app (by 75%) among the 46- to 60-year-old age group, compared to the 18- to 23-year-old age group, after adjusting for educational level (OR = 0.25, p = 0.003, CI = 0.1–0.62). Twelve individuals working in the four studied blood donation centers participated in the semi-structured interviews. Most participants emphasized the importance of providing the donation educational material, showing the blood donation center‟s location on a map, and calculating the donors‟ eligibility. Conclusions: Donors were highly interested in using the blood donation app. However, areas of concern, including privacy and confidentiality, should be considered during design and development. Age was identified as a contributing factor that might decrease the likelihood of app usage among donors. The donation center staff focused on the educational features of the 4 app and emphasized the importance of the app providing statistics and sending notifications and reminders to donors.