Information for Healthcare Professionals

You are probably reading this because you’ve taken part, or been asked to take part, in a market research project conducted by one of our member companies.

You will find below some brief information about the market research process and the high standards that the BHBIA requires of our members.

About the BHBIA

We are the professional association for organisations involved in UK healthcare business intelligence; this includes companies commissioning and agencies carrying out market research and data analytics.  The BHBIA is a long-established and widely respected organisation.  For more detail about the BHBIA please see the website Home page and ‘About the BHBIA’.

About market research

Healthcare and pharmaceutical companies are keen to understand your experience of treating patients and they value your opinions. Healthcare market research supports the measurement and understanding of disease, physician and patient needs and informs drug development.  Findings from market research studies help organisations to shape how they develop their products and services to best meet the needs of healthcare professionals and patients.

Market research is interested in your opinions as a professional in your field, not as a specific individual. It means your personal data is confidential and is not disclosed or used for any non-research purpose. The information you provide will be anonymised and combined with the feedback from other participants.

Why take part in healthcare market research

Participating in market research is an opportunity to have your voice heard, to have your views and experiences taken into account as companies seek to understand your needs and those of your patients. 

Market research attempts to generate understanding and knowledge of a market place and its consumers’ behaviour. Market research does this by obtaining information (data) from specific samples of consumers and extrapolating results to the population as a whole.

In healthcare market research, these consumers include both healthcare professionals and patients/members of the general public living with a particular condition or disease. Market research is scientifically conducted using the information gathering and analytical methods and techniques of applied social, behavioural and data sciences. 

It is not a commercial communication or a selling opportunity and does not result in direct action relating to individuals or organisations named in it. It is never intended to promote products, and any remuneration you may be offered for taking part is only meant as a ‘thank you’ for your time.

Guiding principles for conducting market research legally and ethically

One of the most important areas of the BHBIA’s work is to provide guidance to our members on what we consider to be essential and right for everyone working in healthcare market research. We do this through our Legal and Ethical Guidelines for Healthcare Market Research, updated annually. Our comprehensive Guidelines draw on a range of laws, regulations and guidance, including the ABPI (Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry) Code of Practice, and the latest data protection legislation.

The four fundamental principles of our Guidelines are:

That is, the freely given, specific and informed agreement for your data to be collected and used for market research. The researcher must make sure that you clearly understand the purposes for which they are collecting the data and how it will be used.

If viewing or audio/video recording is involved, they must ask you for your consent before this starts.

These rights include confidentiality, anonymity, and the right to withdraw from the market research at any stage. 

No information identifying you can be passed on to the company commissioning the market research, unless you specifically agree to this.

Market research is completely distinct from selling and researchers must never use it as a vehicle for disguised promotion. This means that they must not try to influence your opinions or behaviours during the market research process.

Finding out about your experience at the forefront of medical treatment also means we can use market research opportunities to identify and report on possible adverse events that help pharmacovigilance departments from pharmaceutical companies’ follow-up on reports. 

Market researchers are required to forward adverse events, product complaints and special reporting situations (e.g. use in pregnancy) that are raised during the market research, to fulfil their responsibility to drug safety. In such a situation they’ll ask you for brief details and request your consent for anonymity to be waived in relation to the adverse event, so that the pharmaceutical company’s drug safety department can follow up if necessary.

Working with BHBIA member organisations

To find out if the company that asked you to take part in a market research project is a member of the BHBIA, please visit our Members Directory.

BHBIA members must adhere to the BHBIA’s Legal and Ethical Guidelines, they are mandatory and we provide training and competency certification to support members.  We strongly recommend that when you participate in market research you make sure you engage with an organisation that is a BHBIA member and committed to upholding our exacting professional standards.


Here is an explanation of some of the specific terms that you may come across during the market research process:

A commonly used term for a market research participant – in healthcare market research this is usually a healthcare professional or a patient.

The company that has commissioned the market research – this is usually a healthcare or pharmaceutical company. Your personal details must never be shared with the client without your specific consent. In market research the client does not need to know who has taken part in the work – the report they receive summarises the findings and recommendations in an anonymous format.

The organisation conducting the market research. There might be more than one agency involved – e.g. a ‘recruiter’ who contacts you and asks you to take part, a ‘fieldwork/data collection’ agency that conducts the interviews and a market research agency that designs the approach and analyses the findings. The BHBIA recommends that all parties involved are contractually linked to ensure the highest standards of market research practice and data security throughout.

This is any benefit that you may be offered to encourage you to take part in a market research project (previously also sometimes referred to as ‘honorarium’).

BHBIA Guidelines recommend that the amount should be appropriate to the nature of the market research, the time involved and your role. Pharmaceutical companies have internal thresholds for remuneration being offered. These will vary from company to company and are adjusted overt time, which results in variation in the remuneration amounts you may be offered to take part.

The researcher must tell you when you can expect to receive the payment, and honour this.

This is used to identify suitable participants (based upon pre-determined selection criteria) for a market research exercise.  The screening process is there to make sure that the market research is relevant to you. It also helps researchers to make sure that they interview a cross section of different people in order to fully understand the topic (i.e. they may have ‘quotas’ – numerical restrictions on the different categories of respondents to ensure that the analysis is conducted for a representative range of healthcare professionals with a range of specific experience with patients and treatments).

Any information relating to an identified or identifiable living person, who can be identified directly or indirectly by that data on its own or together with other data. The requirements of the UK Data Protection Act 2018 (which incorporates the principles of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) are built into the BHBIA’s Guidelines. Researchers must protect your personal data at every stage of the market research process, and the Guidelines help them to do this.     

Improving how we conduct market research

Whilst the BHBIA strives to help our members maintain high standards we recognise that, as an industry, there are always things we could improve on.

In 2017 our ‘Response Rate Task Force’ published the findings of market research they had conducted amongst healthcare professionals and identified a number of areas where we could improve. Work is ongoing to encourage our members to adopt the group’s recommendations.

1.       Better ‘screeners’: it’s important for market research companies to ensure that screeners are not too long so that your time is not wasted in answering preliminary questions for a study we know will not be relevant to you; all questions in screeners should be designed to confirm your eligibility and data from screeners may not be used in our analysis if you are screened out.

2.       Clear timings: market research companies have a responsibility to be honest about the time it takes to complete a survey. The length of an interview will vary from person to person but should be reasonably accurate.  Sometimes, the length of the screener will be mentioned separately.

3.       Improved research design: market research companies should put themselves in your shoes as research participants and design studies to be as user-friendly as possible and make you want to engage as much as possible with the questions; this includes avoiding excessive repetition, considering the layout of questions and input mechanism for answers, amongst other things.

4.       Prompt payment: remuneration you earnt as a result of taking part in a market research study should be paid to you promptly; your input and willingness to take part in market research are the backbone of our work and you deserve to be treated with professionalism and respect by market research companies.

5.       Convenient participation: market research companies should take reasonable steps to ensure your participation is at the heart of the process, rather than requiring you to organise yourself around the process – clear and prompt communication is an essential part of this!

Contacting us

If you would like to contact the BHBIA, please use the button below. However, please note that if you have a specific query, issue or concern about a market research project being conducted by one of our member companies, we would always recommend that you contact the company directly in the first instance, as they will generally be best placed to answer your questions.

Contact BHBIA

View the BHBIA Complaints Policy here. Please note that we can only engage with complaints that relate to a potential breach of BHBIA Guidelines.