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BACKGROUND: Transfusion dependence on red blood cells (RBCs) is common for patients with myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS) but transfusion practice and experience for outpatients with MDS are largely unknown. METHODS: We conducted a web-based cross-sectional multi-national survey to audit real-world transfusion practices and understand the experiences and preferences of patients with MDS requiring RBC transfusion. The survey comprised 57 questions and was distributed to patients in the United States of America, Canada, and the United Kingdom. RESULTS: 447 respondents (45% female) with a median age of 72 years (IQR 66-77) were eligible on the basis of receiving an RBC transfusion in the last 8 weeks. There was wide variability in the hemoglobin thresholds for transfusion with the most common being <80 g/L. 40% of patients were transfused at a lower threshold (<70-75 g/L), with the largest proportion of these patients from the United States. Patients experienced significant symptoms prior to receiving a transfusion with fatigue and dyspnea having the most negative impacts on quality of life. Finally, patients endorsed two potential alterations to transfusion care that could improve their quality of life, including self-administered point of care testing of hemoglobin and higher hemoglobin transfusion thresholds. Of these patients, 62% preferred a threshold of at least 85 g/L, and 20% preferred a threshold of at least 100 g/L. DISCUSSION: In summary, this multi-national survey of patients with MDS requiring RBC transfusions demonstrated substantial variation in patients' experiences and preferences that differed also by country, supporting the need for further comparative clinical trials of transfusion practice interventions.

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