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Covid-19 Coronavirus - Advice for Members

May 23rd, 2022


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

Updated May 2022

We hope that all our members and associates are staying safe and well, and are managing to navigate your businesses through a return to the 'new normal'.

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:

The BHBIA advises our members to consult the MRS (Market Research Society) suite of guidance if considering face-to-face research. 

This was modified in January 2022 in line with the recent lifting of restrictions across the four nations, and again in April 2022 when the further easing of restrictions in England was announced.

A variety of small changes have been made, largely involving a shift from to 'best practice' and 'should', rather than 'requirements' and 'must'.

The MRS note that they will continue to monitor the situation and we may have to revisit the MRS guidance if the situation changes significantly. 

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 receded after the earlier waves, it became practical in some cases 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 had been under significant additional work pressure), but as we enter the Winter period we should be mindful of those pressures increasing again.

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. 

(Please also note the latest MRS guidance above re. in-home data collection.)

New 'Quick Guide'

The BHBIA has produced a 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 most 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. It references the MRS resources and is continually updated to reflect their latest guidance - the most recent update was in May 2022 - it can be downloaded from the Market Research Quick Guides section of the website.

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:

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.