The Investigaytors program is an initiative of the Community-Based Research Centre for Gay Men's Health 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 leaders in gay men’s health.
The program began in January 2011 with four young gay men interested in participating in a hands-on training program, where they worked 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 qualitative and quantitative 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. Additionally, participants learn various research methodologies, how to translate data into relevant information and then disseminate this information to an 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 a national survey on social determinants of gay men’s health. They also developed branding and marketing plans for the survey, and recruited 8600 participants through online outreach. At the same time, 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 learned the basics of data management and statistics through a statistics boot camp and other workshops. The Investigaytors explored the data they collected, and presented their research at the 8th Gay Men’s Health Summit held in November 2012. Following the summit, the Investigaytors, distilled their findings for publication.
Upon completion of their quantitative research, the Investigaytors embarked on a new chapter with the addition of 5 new Investigaytors to the team. In the summer of 2013, the Investigaytors began to explore qualitative methodologies to better understand the rich narratives of gay men’s experiences with their health. Continuing on their trend of hands-on training, the Investigaytors participated in a qualitative boot camp on May 2013. These new found skills were translated into a new qualitative research project that was presented at the 9th Gay Men’s Health Summit in November 2013.
Currently, the Investigaytors are analyzing data from the 2014 Sex Now Survey. Stayed tuned for more!
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 growing body of young gay men with leadership and knowledge to coordinate youth projects, produce evidence-based resources for gay men’s health, and replenish the workforce in Vancouver and BC.