Link to Pubmed [PMID] – 33500285
Link to DOI – 10.1136/bmjopen-2020-042579
BMJ Open 2021 01; 11(1): e042579
Voluntary organisations provide essential support to vulnerable populations and front-line health responders to the COVID-19 pandemic. The French Red Cross (FRC) is prominent among organisations offering health and support services in the current crisis. Comprised primarily of lay volunteers and some trained health workers, FRC volunteers in the Paris (France) region have faced challenges in adapting to pandemic conditions, working with sick and vulnerable populations, managing limited resources and coping with high demand for their services. Existing studies of volunteers focus on individual, social and organisational determinants of motivation, but attend less to contextual ones. Public health incertitude about the COVID-19 pandemic is an important feature of this pandemic. Whether and how uncertainty interacts with volunteer understandings and experiences of their work and organisational relations to contribute to Red Cross worker motivation is the focus of this investigation.This mixed-methods study will investigate volunteer motivation using ethnographic methods and social network listening. Semi-structured interviews and observations will illuminate FRC volunteer work relations, experiences and concerns during the pandemic. A questionnaire targeting a sample of Paris region volunteers will allow quantification of motivation. These findings will iteratively shape and be influenced by a social media (Twitter) analysis of biomedical and public health uncertainties and debates around COVID-19. These tweets provide insight into a French lay public’s interpretations of these debates. We evaluate whether and how socio-political conditions and discourses concerning COVID-19 interact with volunteer experiences, working conditions and organisational relations to influence volunteer motivation. Data collection began on 15 June 2020 and will continue until 15 April 2021.The protocol has received ethical approval from the Institut Pasteur Institutional Review Board (no 2020-03). We will disseminate findings through peer-reviewed articles, conference presentations and recommendations to the FRC.