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BACKGROUND: Blood transfusions are frequently prescribed for acute and chronic conditions; however, the extent to which patients' and health care professionals' (HCPs') perceptions of transfusion have been investigated is unclear. Patients' treatment perceptions influence how patients cope with illnesses or symptoms. HCPs' perceptions may influence treatment decision making. STUDY DESIGN AND METHODS: This was a systematic review of studies post-1984 reporting adult patients' and HCPs' perceptions of blood transfusion. Seven databases were searched using a three-domain search strategy capturing synonyms relating to: 1) blood transfusion, 2) perceptions, and 3) participant group (patients or HCPs). Study and sample characteristics were extracted and narratively summarized. Reported perceptions were extracted and synthesized using inductive qualitative methods to identify key themes. RESULTS: Thirty-two studies were included: 14 investigated patients' perceptions and 18 HCPs' perceptions. Surgical patients were the highest represented patient group. HCPs were from a wide range of professions. Transfusions were perceived by patients and HCPs as being of low-to-moderate risk. Risk and negative emotions were perceived to influence preference for alternatives. Five themes emerged from the synthesis, classified as Safety/risk, Negative emotions, Alternatives (e.g., autologous, monitoring), Health benefits, and Decision making. "Safety/risk" and "Negative emotions" were most frequently investigated over time, yet periods of research inactivity are apparent. CONCLUSIONS: The literature has identified themes on how transfusions are perceived by patients and HCPs, which overlap with recognized discussion points for transfusion specialists. These themes may help HCPs when educating patients about transfusion or consenting patients. Theory-based qualitative methods may add an important dimension to this work.

Original publication




Journal article



Publication Date





446 - 455


Attitude to Health, Blood Transfusion, Female, Health Personnel, Humans, Male