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Medicys follows the UK MRS advice for all its projects, in all countries

March 23, 2020

BHBIA guidance specific to MR with healthcare professionals: However, given the healthcare-specific remit of the BHBIA, we feel that additional guidance is needed in relation to contact with healthcare professionals (HCPs), especially as we have been made aware that in some cases doctors are being approached inappropriately to participate in primary market research at this time. Given the unprecedented strain on the time of healthcare professionals at present, members are asked to avoid non-essential contact and delay non-urgent contact with frontline healthcare professionals for market research purposes, via any medium, during this health emergency. (By ‘frontline’ we mean any HCP who may be directly or indirectly impacted by the crisis, such that they are under additional work pressure). We are not suggesting that there should be a stop to all primary market research, rather that members should give careful consideration to any communications with HCPs and be sensitive to the challenges they are facing. With regard to non-HCPs, it would obviously be wise to consider any potential sensitivities/individual circumstances that might warrant a cautious approach.

March 20, 2020:

MRS guidance to its members on the grounds of health and safety and public acceptability is that face-to-face research (including mystery shopping) should not be carried out in the current environment.

Independently, Medicys Limited has made the decision not to contact some frontline healthcare professionals for a period of at least 4 weeks, so they can concentrate on what matters most: public health and safety. A list of those we are not approaching at present is below:

Infectious/tropical disease specialists; Infectious/tropical disease nurses; Respiratory medicine physicians (pulmonologists); Respiratory nurses (pulmonology nurses); A&E (ER) physicians; A&E (ER) nurses; Paramedics/ambulance staff; Intensive care physicians; Intensive care nurses; Internal medicine (in the countries where they exist); ANY lab staff (community or hospital)

March 9, 2020:

The UK MRS has provided market research practitioners with some general advice to help when considering how to deal with the implications of the spread of the Covid-19 Coronavirus. The BHBIA strongly recommends that its members read the MRS’s advice. Market Research Society - Coronavirus, Covid-19 General Business and Research Advice

“The outbreak of Covid-19 continues to evolve and practitioners may have questions regarding what they should do in their businesses plus also contact with participants. This advice is based on current understanding and will be updated should government and health advice change significantly. It should be noted this does not replace government advice; it is meant to supplement the official sources with the addition of some research considerations. Remember to continue to check the up-to-date guidance on the government website.”

Participant Recruitment

When approaching individuals to participate in face to face research interviewers/recruiters/researchers should:

  • Avoid people who look visibly unwell
  • Stand at least 1 metre (3 feet) away from the potential participant
  • Carry tissues and bacterial wipes and throw away in a bin any which are used
  • Avoid touching their nose, mouth or eyes
  • Avoid any physical contact such as shaking an individual’s hand

When undertaking the screener questions (via online, telephone or face to face) to establish whether individuals are suitable for face to face research practitioners should add some additional questions which determine:

  • Whether participants have visited or been in close contact with any individuals who have visited, or travelled through (via transfers, etc) any of the high-risk areas
  • Whether participants are experiencing any flu-like symptoms
  • Whether participants have been in close contact with individuals experiencing flu-like symptoms

Participants who respond to the screener questions which indicates they have a high risk of infection should not be recruited for face to face research. These participants however could be recruited for either online or telephone studies if obtaining such information is unlikely to expose the interviewer/recruiter/researcher to potential infection.

The Covid-19 screener questions, as they include the collection of special category health data, can only be collected with the informed consent of participants (see MRS Code of Conduct rule 31).

When recording the responses to the screener questions no inferences should be made to the actual health of the participant. Researchers are not health professionals. The screener questions being recommended are to be used to reduce potential risk to others involved in research (interviewers, recruiters, researchers and other participants).

During Face to Face Research

Before face-to-face research commences the screener questions to establish Covid-19 risk should be repeated. Any individuals whose screener responses raises concerns should be asked to withdraw from the research.

If participants are screened out prior to the commencement of the research, they should be refunded for any costs (such as travel) they may have incurred to participate in research.

When setting up venues and/or facilities being used for research undertake the following:

  • Position participants and those involved in the research (e.g. researchers, moderators, recruiters, venue staff, hosts, interviewers) at least 1 metre apart from each other
  • Provide hand sanitizer
  • Provide adequate washroom facilities which have hot water and soap
  • When providing refreshments ensure that the servers are trained to handle refreshments in an appropriate manner
  • If providing goods as incentives, ensure they are wrapped/sealed before handing to participants
  • Wear surgical masks in countries where masks are the cultural norm (e.g. Asia)

In some markets taking the temperature of participants may be acceptable but for many countries this would be considered intrusive. Furthermore, only those suitably qualified should undertake such health checks. Provide participants a telephone number/website/email address for your research team/organisation which participants should contact if they become infected with Covid-19 following a research project. Contact NHS 111 immediately upon receiving notification of any participants who have become infected with Covid-19. Act swiftly on advice from the NHS and/or Public Health England in relation to your staff and participants following the reporting of a Covid-19 infection.

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