UQ leads global network promoting donor research

12 Nov 2019

An international group of researchers and healthcare practitioners working to advance understanding of the issues surrounding donors of substances of human origin (SoHO), is being led by researchers in The University of Queensland.

blood donorProfessor Barbara Masser from UQ’s School of Psychology said the aim of the Donor Research Network (DoRN) was to promote the importance of donors of SoHO such as blood, plasma, platelets, stem cells, bone marrow, organs, tissue, and breast milk.

“Our goal is to provide research leadership that improves theoretical and practical understanding of donor behaviour,” Professor Masser said.

“We hope to help the medical matchmakers who match SoHO donations to recipients, to recruit and retain the right donor to donate the right product for the right patient at the right time.

“The starting point is to bring together highly experienced interdisciplinary researchers and practitioners from the range of SoHO donor sectors to share knowledge and start conversations since all share similar challenges.”

The first DoRN meeting on Monday 25 November at the UQ St Lucia campus will focus on engaging and retaining SoHO donors from diverse ethnic backgrounds.

“Effective treatment for a range of diseases requires well-matched donations of blood, blood products, stem cells, and organs from a diverse group of donors,” Professor Masser said.

“However, the SoHO donor panels in Australia are mostly made up of female, middle- to older-aged, and White donors, so our focus is on how to engage and retain donors who have historically been harder to reach – such as those from culturally and linguistically diverse communities.”

Attendees at the DoRN event currently include experts from the Australian Red Cross Blood Service, DonateLife, the Australian Bone Marrow Donor Registry, the Federation of Ethnic Communities’ Councils of Australia, UR the Cure, Victoria University of Wellington, University of Sydney and UQ.

Professor Masser said other practitioners and researchers from health professional, non-profit, community, and academic sectors with an interest in SoHO donors are welcome to attend.

“This area is both rich for the application of many theories from both social psychology and health psychology, and challenging as we try to determine the best way to engage and sustain donors over many years,” she said.

“It is our hope that attendees will come away with some insights they can apply in practice, and that we can facilitate connections between practitioners and researchers.”

The one-day meeting is free to attend and fully catered, but registration is essential as places are limited.

Media: Professor Barbara Masser, b.masser@psy.uq.edu.au, +61 7 3365 6373, @barbaramasser; Dani Nash, UQ Communications, habs.media@uq.edu.au, +61 7 3346 3035, @UQhealth.