Monday, January 21, 2013

Kid gloves: surveys and sensitivity

Today’s guest post comes from Document Capture Co, specialists in automating data capture . In particular, they have a large amount of experience implementing quick and cost-effective data collection methods for research projects.

When conducting clinical trials and research studies, it pays to be as cautious, sensitive and prepared as possible. Your trial could take in people from dozens of different religions, ethnic groups, nationalities, age ranges and locations, so you need to be flexible enough to be able to approach these individuals properly and harness the most authentic results. Here’s why sensitivity and mutual respect can help you to ensure that your study produces the most accurate, desirable results possible:

When conducting your studies, you need to bear in mind that you could be dealing with any number of different people with different backgrounds and possibly even languages between them. With this in mind, you need to ensure that your written and verbal communication is as clear and precise as possible. The last thing you need is for participants to misinterpret your questions and provide you with aberrant results; guarantee that your surveys and questionnaires are well-written and easy to understand, and provide accurate translations where necessary.

Confidentiality is an important factor when it comes to research, particularly with regards to clinical trials that deal with large amounts of sensitive, personal information, or surveys dealing with delicate opinions. Reassuring your participants that their data is securely kept and adequately stored is an important stage in gaining their trust and ensuring that their responses are accurate and truthful, as well as being best practice by law. Making your studies as anonymous as possible can also be very helpful in these circumstances, so it’s something you ought to consider. For example, try using anonymous unique reference numbers.

When dealing with broad strata of different people and groups, it is crucial that you come across as impartial and non-judgemental. Of course, we like to think that everyone in the healthcare profession is intrinsically impartial, but it can be all too easy to inadvertently slip loaded language or exclusive terms into your written correspondence, particularly where print and paper data capture is concerned. If you’re worried about the dangers of miscommunication or inaccurate copywriting, it can be helpful to produce your pieces with the help of a company with experience in such matters.

When the time comes to undertake your survey, you need to spend some time considering your methodology, and in particular, the media with which you are going to capture your data. Different audiences in different times and locations will respond more or less positively when faced with various data capture methods, so you need to analyse your audience and determine which data capture method would be most appropriate. For example, an elderly sample may respond better to a paper surveys rather than online forms. However, Chris Zizzamia will be talking at the Patient-Centered Clinical Trials Summit on April 22nd about the results of a pilot that replaced paper based consenting with multimedia eConsents on iPads. There is a question over whether paper is a suitable medium as it can be prone to errors due to source control and does not allow for a delivery of information that is patient-centric.  If you'd like to join us at Partnerships in Clinical Trials, when you mention code XP1800BLOG while registering, you save 15% off the standard rate.

It is crucial for the validity of both your qualitative and quantitative data that you take the utmost care to avoid alienating or otherwise upsetting your audiences. Audiences can be unpredictable and, therefore, a sensitive, considered approach is always worth bearing in mind.

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