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Covid-19 Coronavirus - Advice for Members

August 31st, 2021


Joint statement from the Chairs of the BHBIA Board, Ethics & Compliance Committee and Fieldwork Forum 
Updated August 2021 

We hope that all our members and associates are staying safe and well, and are managing to navigate your businesses through a gradual return to normality. 

This bulletin gives you our latest advice on navigating the current public health crisis, with a focus on our responsibility to protect all participants (respondents and interviewers) and the reputation of our industry. 

Current BHBIA Guidance:

In July, the MRS updated their suite of guidance, setting out the conditions for the resumption of face-to-face data collection activities across the four nations of the UK. The MRS removed the principle that face-to-face data collection should 'only be undertaken when it is the most suitable methodology'.  Further changes were made in August 2021 to guide their members wishing to consider a cautious return to in-home data collection.

Given the particular sensitivities attached to healthcare research, the BHBIA still advises its members to carry out face to face fieldwork after a risk assessment and only when it is the most suitable methodology to use.

In addition, BHBIA members should be mindful of specific considerations that relate to healthcare MR – these apply whatever the research medium:

HCPs:

As pressure on the healthcare service recedes, it becomes practical to resume some work with Covid frontline HCPs (By ‘Covid frontline’ we mean HCPs such as intensive care or respiratory specialists, i.e. those who have been under significant additional work pressure). 

However, we continue to urge members to take a careful and sensitive approach when approaching any HCPs, via any medium, and to be considerate of their individual needs and priorities.

Additionally, we would advise extreme caution if considering face to face interviewing of HCPs on NHS premises.

Non-HCPs:

The MRS guidance highlights that research practitioners have a responsibility to protect vulnerable groups, participants and the reputation of the profession. 

This is especially important when considering respondents with health conditions, and researchers should consider any potential sensitivities/individual circumstances that might warrant a cautious approach. 

New 'Quick Guide'

The BHBIA has produced a new guide: 'Face to face fieldwork – Managing post-lockdown and the longer term' to help you carry out face to face research safely and comfortably.  Even though some Covid-19 related restrictions have been lifted there is probably some residual unease amongst face to face research participants and practitioners.  This guidance describes considerations and measures to allay this unease and help all those involved feel confident that the work has protective precautions in place:

The BHBIA will continue to monitor government advice and the latest MRS guidance and we will update this statement accordingly.

We need to stay flexible as the circumstances of individuals or groups may change at any time. 

Paul O'Nions - BHBIA Chairman 

Matt Beckett - Chair, BHBIA Ethics & Compliance Committee 

Adam Irwin - Chair, BHBIA Fieldwork Forum 


Further information

MRS guidance:

  • Suite of guidance materials: Coronavirus: resources and support for the research sector (mrs.org.uk). The MRS materials include useful advice on risk assessments prior to data collection and measures to ensure participant safety during data collection, including recommendations on social distancing, ventilation and facial coverings, which go beyond the government’s legal requirements. The BHBIA's Quick Guide draws upon this advice.

Government guidance:

BHBIA resources:

  • The BHBIA continues to add relevant updates and guidance to our Covid-19 Information and Resources hub. Please keep an eye on this page. It includes many useful resources from other industry associations, in particular the MRS, plus research and trackers conducted by member companies, and is regularly updated.