Background: A community of practice (COP) is a group of people who share a passion for something, and learn how to perform better as they interact regularly. COPs have been shown to be effective models for achieving quality outcomes in healthcare. We report the development and evaluation of a COP in stem cell donor recruitment in Canada.

Methodology: In 09/2017, we launched a COP in stem cell donor recruitment in Canada. Stakeholders in donor recruitment were invited via email and Facebook posts to participate in regular e-meetings and a Facebook group. E-meeting topics included running larger stem cell drives, recruiting the most needed donors, redirecting non-optimal donors, reviews of drive outcomes and strategies to improve, using patient stories to support donor recruitment, and reducing donor attrition. Each e-meeting included speakers and roundtable discussion relevant to the theme. The Facebook group facilitated discussion and sharing of resources between e-meetings (see Fig. A for examples of posts). COP participants were also invited to join subcommittees which focused on developing needed resources or achieving specific objectives identified by the COP. A survey was sent to COP participants in 01/2020 to evaluate the perceived impact of the COP to donor recruitment practice. Recruitment outcomes by COP participants of the Canadian donor recruitment organization Stem Cell Club were compared before and after the launch of the COP.

Results: As of 07/2020, the COP Facebook group included 333 stakeholders in donor recruitment (312 donor recruiters from Stem Cell Club; 15 patients/donors; 6 donor registry staff). 51 unique attendees participated in 7 e-meetings, 21 of whom attended 2 or more meetings. COP participants collaboratively set the following goals for the COP: 1) to foster teamwork and collaboration in donor recruitment efforts; 2) to improve knowledge and practice related to donor recruitment; 3) to improve recruitment of the most-needed donors; and 4) to improve donor recruiters' ability to run high quality stem cell drives. 141 posts were published to the Facebook group about patient/donor stories (41%), resources in stem cell donation (23%), stem cell drive outcomes and campaigns (15%), updates related to donor recruitment (14%), and questions posed to the community by COP participants (5%).

44 COP participants completed the COP evaluation survey. The majority agreed/strongly agreed that the Facebook group (86%) and e-meetings (59%) supported the development of a community. 64-84% agreed/strongly agreed that participating in the COP fostered collaboration; improved their knowledge and practice in donor recruitment; and improved their ability to run higher quality drives and recruit most-needed donors (Fig. B). Stem Cell Club's donor recruitment outcomes improved following the launch of the COP: in 2016-2017, Stem Cell Club recruited 2918 donors (46% male; 55.9% of males non-Caucasian) compared to 3418 donors in 2017-2018 (52.7% male; 57.8% of males non-Caucasian), and 4531 donors in 2018-2019 (52.9% male; 62.7% of males non-Caucasian) (Fig C). Finally, a number of outputs were generated as a result of collaboration through the COP, including development of resources such as an infographic (stemcellclub.ca/promo.html), a whiteboard video series (youtu.be/V4fVBtxnWfM), and a stem cell donation story library (#WhyWeSwab; facebook.com/WhyWeSwab). COP participants collaborated on national donor recruitment campaigns, securing coverage in major media outlets across Canada (including Toronto Star: thestar.com/life/2019/11/15/stem-cell-donors-wanted-get-swabbed-campaign-coming-to-university-campuses.html; Toronto Sun: torontosun.com/news/local-news/working-to-build-canadas-network-of-stem-cell-donors; London Free Press: lfpress.com/news/local-news/toddlers-case-proves-patients-must-harness-social-media-in-quest-for-stem-cell-donors-advocates; and Victoria News: vicnews.com/news/stem-cell-drive-at-uvic-aims-to-find-lifesaving-donors-for-patients-in-need) and recruiting thousands of needed donors (Fig. D).

Conclusion: We describe the first COP in stem cell donor recruitment to our knowledge. The COP was valued by participants and supported efforts to improve donor recruitment. The COP model can be adapted by donor recruitment organizations around the world to improve recruitment outcomes.

Disclosures

No relevant conflicts of interest to declare.

Author notes

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Asterisk with author names denotes non-ASH members.