The Investigaytors is an initiative of the Community-Based Research Centre that seeks to build the capacities of young gay men in research. This training program aims to equip young gay men with the knowledge, skills and resources to contribute to the development of knowledge about gay men’s health and gay communities. The program began in January 2011 with four young gay men interested in participating in a hands-on training program, where they would work alongside experienced researchers in the implementation of a national survey to gay men.
There is often a tendency among researchers to only include within CBR activities an advisory group with representation of community organizations. This approach neglects to build the community’s capacities to understand, critique and perform research. Differently, this initiative offers the opportunity for young gay men to get involved and take a key role in all stages of a research project, including questionnaire development, data management and statistical analysis.
In this research training and health education program, participants also learn about the determinants of health and their impact on HIV prevention and sexual health, various research methodologies, how to translate data into relevant information for an audience and how to disseminate this information to the audience. We aim to strengthen the knowledge and skills of young gay men to enable them to participate in community research efforts, including HIV prevention and sexual health.
From April 2011 – March 2012, the group, which chose the name “the Investigaytors” participated in the development of the first survey on social determinants of health in the region. They also developed branding and marketing plans for the survey, and proceeded to recruit 8600 participants through online outreach. Meanwhile, they also learned about gay men’s health and social sciences through a series of workshops, guest speakers, and attendance at conferences. The Investigaytors also learn the basics of data management and statistics through a statistics boot camp and other workshops. Since March 2012, the investigaytors have been exploring the data collected and preparing presentations for the upcoming gay men’s health summit in November 2012.
Young gay men are looking for opportunities to get involved in community life and this program provides that opportunity. For gay men’s health, the benefit of youth involvement has led to a re-invigoration of HIV prevention and sexual health promotion. The Investigaytor program is supporting a corps of young gay men with leadership and knowledge to coordinate youth projects, produce evidence based resources for gay health and replenish the workforce in Vancouver and BC.