Originally our study started in London, ON, in 2019 and expanded to Calgary, AB in 2020. We used best practices from the fields of Implementation Science and Behavioural Medicine.
Our project focused on answering these questions:
To answer these questions, we interviewed and surveyed gay, bi and queer guys. We also interviewed donor centre staff.
We have a strong focus on working with gbMSM communities. We have two Local Advisory Groups (LAGs) consisting of gbMSM in London and Calgary. These folks provide monthly feedback and guidance on all aspects of the study.
The LAG groups have been an integral part of this work.
We used what we found interviews and surveys to then figure out how we could help newly eligible guys donate plasma. We formed two smaller development groups to work on creating interventions (you can see the research-y process we used to do this on the poster below). One group focused on a website (hi there! you’re reading it!) and the other focused on a video.
When we were looking for people to take part in our research, we created many advertisements and images for social media, posters and more. We’ve also created lots of infographics and other resources. For those interested in how we recruited men in the 2SGBTQ+ communities from London and Calgary, as well as those interested in the various infographics we’ve created to make the vast amount of information for this project more digestible, we present our portfolio. Please feel free to browse at your leisure!
We interviewed 17 men in London and 10 men in Calgary who identified as gay, bisexual or as having sex with men (gbMSM). Right now we have just examined the interviews from London. In the coming months we’ll write more about what folks in Calgary had to say in this section of the website.
The folks we interviewed shared the following:
Many interviewees were keen to donate in the new program if they were eligible. However, even those who wanted to donate pointed out a number of things that made donating challenging (other than eligibility). This shows that while eligibility is important, being eligible on its own is likely not enough to encourage folks to donate as part of this new plasma program.
Some things that could stop people from donating were:
These findings shaped the recommendations we made to Canadian Blood Services when the pilot program was launched. We have also taken these thoughts, opinions and experiences into account when we created this website.
We received 247 responses to the survey from London and Calgary. We are still analyzing the responses we got from the surveys. When the analysis is finished, we will write a summary here.
If you would like to look at the survey questions, you can read through a PDF of the questions we asked in London and Calgary (they were slightly different).
Very few studies have looked into the thoughts and beliefs of donor centre staff. We interviewed 28 donor centre staff (13 in London and 15 in Calgary). Our interviews focused on what would support or hinder staff in using the new screening questions for the pilot plasma program.
We broke down what staff had to say into three themes:
Staff also believed that giving donors and the public enough information about the new criteria would help everyone understand and accept the changes. This includes what specific questions would be asked of gbMSM and why those questions are asked.
In October 2021, our team looked at what folks said in their interviews, and what would stop them from donating plasma. We developed recommendations for how to overcome these challenges. These recommendations were sent to the Manager responsible for the gbMSM plasma program at Canadian Blood Services.
Since we are based in an academic research institution, we have, of course, been working on publishing some of the results from our research in academic journals. You can check out our manuscripts using the links below.
Protocol Paper: A research protocol is a detailed plan of the study. You can check ours out in Health Research Policy and Systems.
Staff Paper: The results from interviews with staff. You can check it out in Transfusion.
This research received funding support from Canadian Blood Services MSM Research Program, funded by the federal government (Health Canada) and the provincial and territorial ministries of health. The views herein do not necessarily reflect the views of Canadian Blood Services or the federal, provincial, or territorial governments of Canada. This website has been developed for a research project funded by the Canadian Blood Services MSM (i.e., men who have sex with men) research grant. This project and the others that were also funded were created to develop the evidence needed to progress the policy (see more info here).