Using qualitative research methods in biomedical innovation: the case of cultured red blood cells for transfusion.
BMC Res Notes. 2016 May 11;9:267
BACKGROUND: Qualitative research has a key role to play in biomedical innovation projects. This article focuses on the appropriate use of robust social science methodologies (primarily focus group studies) for identifying the public's willingness and preference for emerging medical technologies. Our study was part of the BloodPharma project (now known as the Novosang project) to deliver industrially generated red blood cells for transfusion. Previous work on blood substitutes shows that the public prefers donated human blood. However, no research has been conducted concerning attitudes to stem cell derived red blood cells.
METHODS: Qualitative research methods including interviews and focus groups provide the methodological context for this paper.
RESULTS: Focus groups were used to elicit views from sub-sections of the UK population about the potential use of such cultured red blood cells. We reflect on the appropriateness of that methodology in the context of the BloodPharma project. Findings are in the form of lessons transferable to other interdisciplinary, science-led teams about what a social science dimension can bring; why qualitative research should be included; and how it can be used effectively.