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CIHR Canadian HIV Trials Network (CTN): Timeline and Objectives

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Sex and sexual health practices of Middle Eastern and North African (MENA) youth in Canada are under-researched, even as the community grows rapidly due to immigration. In our previous study (YSMENA) of MENA youth, we found that gay and bisexual cis men and trans youth experience unique sexual and mental health challenges associated with high HIV risk (condomless sex and substance use), including barriers to accessing health care, homophobia, and strained familial relationships. Few studies have evaluated interventions that address mental health risks and promote well-being among sexual and gender minority youth, and none among MENA youth. We propose a community-based, mixed-methods pilot intervention to assess the feasibility and help plan a randomized controlled trial (RCT) comparing Self-Compassion, Mindful Acceptance, and Resilience Transformation (SMART): an 8- week group-based training - with a delayed-treatment waitlist control group. 

The central objectives of the study are:

  1. This study aims to promote the mental well-being, reduce psychological distress (depression, anxiety, and stress) and reduce HIV high risk practices in gay, bisexual and trans MENA youth in Ontario. 

  2. We hypothesize that participants in the proposed mindfulness-based group intervention with integrated culturally relevant, LGBTQ affirmative practice will have increased safer sex practices and improved mental health compared to participants in the waitlist control group and that the intervention will be feasible to implement and acceptable to potential participants. 

Study Design

Recruit 40 Participants

Participants will be recruited through Community Partners

The intervention group will receive an 8-week intervention 

The study will be advertised via social media platforms


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Mixed-methods which involves 2 phases:

A quantitative component that includes a waitlist randomized controlled trial

A qualitative component that involves focus groups. 


Data will be gathered using self-completed surveys and focus groups.


Participants will be asked to complete the baseline self-completed surveys online before commencing the program. Eligible participants will be randomized to either receive SMART intervention or waitlist.


Both groups will also complete the surveys 12 weeks (3 months) post intervention.


Qualitative data will be gathered through focus groups that will be conducted for both intervention and control groups at 12 weeks (3 months) post intervention.

Promoting Mental Health and Reducing HIV Risk Behaviours through Self-compassion, Mindful Acceptance & Resilience Transformation (SMART): An Evidence-informed Pilot Randomized Trial with Diaspora MENA Gay, Bisexual and Trans Youth in Ontario. This study was funded by a CIHR Canadian HIV Trials Network (CIHR/CTN) Pilot Grant. For more information about the CTNPT 049: SMART Intervention in Middle Eastern and North African Gay, Bisexual, and Trans Youth Study, please check this CTN website link

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