Even bigger STRIDES made as recruitment goal is exceeded

Thanks to our ongoing partnership with NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT), recruitment of blood donors into the NIHR BioResource has been extended to the 3rd of November, with recruitment already at almost 160% of the initial target.

Logo for Strides Study - Strategies to improve donor experiences

The collaboration, which began in November 2019, initially aimed to recruit 50,000 blood donors into the STRIDES BioResource at the NIHR BioResource from over 70 mobile NHSBT units and donation centres across England. To date, recruitment figures boast over 80,000 active volunteers, up from 15,000 at the beginning of February 2021, and a new total of 78 operating sites.

The success of recruitment is testament to the robust collaboration with NHSBT and the valiant efforts of staff and volunteers at donation sites up and down the country, particularly given the challenges presented by COVID-19.

As part of ongoing efforts across NHSBT and the NIHR to increase ethnic and socio-economic diversity of blood donors and health research participants, recruitment this year been targeted in areas with above national average of donors of a self-reported ethnicity other than white or residing in the most economically deprived districts.

The extension to the 3rd of November will take BioResource recruitment through to the end of the main STRIDES study.

What is STRIDES?

The STRategies to Improve Donor ExperienceS (STRIDES) study is a partnership between NHSBT and the University of Cambridge that seeks to improve the effectiveness of interventions on a blood donation session within NHSBT that will make donation even safer for the donor and improve the blood donor experience overall.

The interventions include changes to leaflets a donor reads before donation, drinks offered in the waiting area, and advice given during and after donation.

It also has two additional objectives: 1) to collect blood samples and questionnaire data from whole blood donors for research purposes, and 2) to establish a panel of thousands of healthy volunteers who are willing to be contacted and asked if they wish to participate in medical and health-related studies: the STRIDES BioResource.

Blood samples in test tubes being placed into a biosample bag

Joining the STRIDES BioResource

A subset of blood donors who join STRIDES at one of their regular donation appointments are invited, under no obligation and with no impact on their regular blood donation, to join the STRIDES BioResource, part of the general population cohort (participant grouping) at the NIHR BioResource.

A small sample of blood donated on the day is processed and stored by the NIHR BioResource at our central laboratory at the National Biosample Centre in Milton Keynes, meaning the donor DNA and health and lifestyle information is available for researchers looking into the relationship between our genes, the environment, health and disease.

In addition to the benefits for the researchers we facilitate at the BioResource, NHSBT receive genetic and blood group information on their blood donors, allowing for better red cells and platelet matching for patients. Ultimately this helps to decrease the risk of adverse patient reactions when receiving donor blood, something that is still relatively common for patients requiring multiple blood transfusions, such as those living with Sickle Cell disease. Finally, the STRIDES BioResource can help NHSBT recruit more stem cell donors.

Professor David Roberts, Medical Director at NHSBT said: 

"The collaboration between NHSBT and NIHR BioResource has been a great success and reflects the hard work of the collection teams and the enthusiasm of donors to become involved with medical research.

"The work with the BioResource will also define more blood group types on each donor and so help us provide better matched products for patients.

"It’s been a wonderful partnership and many thanks to all the donors, the collection teams and the team at the BioResource for making this possible."

We would like to sincerely thank all the blood donors who have joined the BioResource so far, not only their vital contribution as blood donors but for agreeing to make their samples available for health research via the BioResource and willingness to be invited to participate in further research.

If you are interested in becoming a BioResource volunteer, you can find out more about joining. If you are a researcher interested in using the BioResource to support your research, please get in touch.

For more information on STRIDES, visit strides-study.org.uk.

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