Repository logo

Evaluation of interventions to prevent vasovagal reactions among whole blood donors: rationale and design of a large cluster randomised trial.

Accepted version

Change log


Walker, Matthew 
Mehenny, Susan 
Gilchrist, Philippe T 


BACKGROUND: Vasovagal reactions (VVRs) are the most common acute complications of blood donation. Responsible for substantial morbidity, they also reduce the likelihood of repeated donations and are disruptive and costly for blood services. Although blood establishments worldwide have adopted different strategies to prevent VVRs (including water loading and applied muscle tension [AMT]), robust evidence is limited. The Strategies to Improve Donor Experiences (STRIDES) trial aims to reliably assess the impact of four different interventions to prevent VVRs among blood donors. METHODS: STRIDES is a cluster-randomised cross-over/stepped-wedge factorial trial of four interventions to reduce VVRs involving about 1.4 million whole blood donors enrolled from all 73 blood donation sites (mobile teams and donor centres) of National Health Service Blood and Transplant (NHSBT) in England. Each site ("cluster") has been randomly allocated to receive one or more interventions during a 36-month period, using principles of cross-over, stepped-wedge and factorial trial design to assign the sequence of interventions. Each of the four interventions is compared to NHSBT's current practices: (i) 500-ml isotonic drink before donation (vs current 500-ml plain water); (ii) 3-min rest on donation chair after donation (vs current 2 min); (iii) new modified AMT (vs current practice of AMT); and (iv) psychosocial intervention using preparatory materials (vs current practice of nothing). The primary outcome is the number of in-session VVRs with loss of consciousness (i.e. episodes involving loss of consciousness of any duration, with or without additional complications). Secondary outcomes include all in-session VVRs (i.e. with and without loss of consciousness), all delayed VVRs (i.e. those occurring after leaving the venue) and any in-session non-VVR adverse events or reactions. DISCUSSION: The STRIDES trial should yield novel information about interventions, singly and in combination, for the prevention of VVRs, with the aim of generating policy-shaping evidence to help inform blood services to improve donor health, donor experience, and service efficiency. TRIAL REGISTRATION: ISRCTN: 10412338. Registration date: October 24, 2019.



Blood donation, Blood donors, Cluster randomised trial, Cross-over, Factorial design, Stepped-wedge, Vasovagal reactions

Journal Title


Conference Name

Journal ISSN


Volume Title


Springer Science and Business Media LLC
NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT) (17-01-GEN)
Department of Health (via National Institute for Health Research (NIHR)) (NIHR203337)
British Heart Foundation (RG/18/13/33946)
National Institute for Health and Care Research (IS-BRC-1215-20014)