Legal and Ethical Guidelines

BHBIA Legal and Ethical Guidelines for Healthcare Market Research: Your essential guide

NEW: The updated August 2019 Legal and Ethical Guidelines are now available - click on the button below to download your copy

Key changes to the Guidelines are summarised on page 4 of the document and include: 

  • Clarification of the requirement to name the end client as a source when they provide a list for recruitment, even if this is via a third party list provider on the client’s behalf 
  • Additional guidance on addressing sex and/or gender 
  • New guidance on MR testing of promotional messages or materials 
  • Additional guidance on the definition of vulnerable respondents 
  • Social media – extended guidance on observing copyright reporting and a reminder about adverse events, product complaints and special reporting situations 

The online training programme Legal and Ethical Guidelines for Market Researchers and associated competency test have also been updated and online renewals for both this and the Adverse Event Reporting module are now open. You can take the training now and obtain a certificate that’s valid right through to October 2020 (subject to your company paying their membership fees). 

The BHBIA Legal and Ethical Guidelines include everything you need, in one place, to keep your market research project running smoothly from a legal and ethical point of view - saving you time and trouble.

  • Legal do’s and don’ts
  • Data protection unravelled (GDPR / UK Data Protection Act 2018 requirements are built in throughout)
  • Best practice recommendations
  • Step-by-step through a project (This makes the Guidelines easy to navigate, and you can also search on key words for the information you need)
  • Terms made easy
  • Ready-to-use forms

The Guidelines are updated every year, and changes since the previous version are clearly indicated so that you can see what’s new.  This document replaces all previous versions.

Download the August 2019 Guidelines

Other useful resources:

For your convenience the pro formas (found in the appendix section of the Legal and Ethical Guidelines) are also available in word format for ease of use.

View details / Download Pro Formas


Our Legal and Ethical Guidelines FAQ resource is a selection of real-life queries from members and the responses from our Ethics Advisor. It supplements the Guidelines, but does not cover all topics – please always check the main Guidelines document first.

View the FAQ

If you have a query about the Guidelines - or any legal or ethical query about UK healthcare market research that's not answered in the Guidelines or FAQs - please use the guidelines Online Enquiries service (full BHBIA members only). 

Online Enquiries

This is covered separately within the specific ABPI/ BHBIA Guidance notes on collecting adverse events, product complaints and special reporting situations during market research. We cross reference this in the Guidelines rather than repeating information from it. 

View the AE/PC/SRS Guidance

The BHBIA provides a separate Guidelines for the Use of Secondary Data series. These guides  provide clear guidance on the legal and ethical implications of using secondary data for market research and associated business intelligence purposes such as database building or customer relationship management.

View the Secondary Data guides