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How to qualify your medical market research participants

Including the right type of patients or healthcare professionals in your sample can make all the difference to your medical market research project. It is essential that your qualifying questionnaire helps you identify the people which will make your project successful. We’ve put together our 5 top tips to help you structure your questionnaire and how to use it effectively.

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1) Use the right language

Or, in other words, approach the conversation like a human being. Try to avoid using overly complicated or specialist language where possible, especially with patients. It is all too easy to drop in abbreviations, acronyms and overly-complicated language around medication and healthcare that can go over a patient’s head and leave them confused or less likely to give accurate answers.

In addition to this, avoid going through your qualifying questionnaire in an overly-robotic way, even if it is the twentieth time you’ve asked the same questions. This can be a particularly easy trap to fall into when you’re trying to get through a lot of information. Make sure you use vocabulary that participants are going to be familiar with. This will ensure they stay engaged and provide accurate answers, helping you recruit the right individuals for your medical market research project.

Healthcare Market Research

2) Ensure your qualifying questionnaire has the right structure

If you want to get the most accurate answers from your participants then you have to ensure that your qualifying questionnaire is laid out in the correct structure. By making sure the interview is structured in a logical,’human-first’ way is important to help identify your ideal participants.

From our experience, when recruiting for qualitative medical market research we have noticed that including a more open-ended or’creative’ question is more likely to help identify which of your participants would be the most open and conversational during the research project

Popular questions include:

  • Who would you invite to your perfect dinner party?
  • What item would you take to a desert island and why?

Give these a try towards the end of your qualifying questionnaire, you may be surprised at how well participants respond to these types of questions.

Bear in mind, that before you fill up your qualifying questionnaire with creative questions you should include questions that help you exclude unsuitable respondents early on in your recruitment process, saving valuable time both for you and for them. For example, asking a patient early on in the process what medication they are on and how often they take it could exclude many people early on in the process and save both you and your prospective respondents a lot of time.

3) Be clear on confidentiality and consent

Being upfront, clear and transparent about all aspects of consent and confidentiality at the start of your relationship with a respondent won’t just ensure they’re more comfortable about the project from the word go, it’s also essential to reducing the risk of them dropping out midway into the study.

To that end, make sure you let them know about consent at the start of the questionnaire – together with whether the interview is going to be recorded. It’s just as vital to let them know about adverse events early in the process; similarly, if you are a member of any market research bodies this may help participants feel reassured because of your credentials and more comfortable with the exercise.

In addition, letting them know that they have right of refusal on any questions, as well as the right to anonymity can add to that sense of reassurance, as can ensuring that they have all the necessary information about the project’s purpose and structure upfront – how many stages of research they’ll be involved in, for example, or what its findings will be used for (eg training purposes or communications.)

Finally, make sure you remind them that their details will not be passed on to a 3rd party unless they give specific consent for that to take place – this is important.

Healthcare market research

4) Keep it short and sweet  

Even the most focused of us will struggle to stay engaged for long periods of time – and that’s even the case when we’re taking participants through the qualifying questionnaire. So our fourth piece of advice is to try and keep your questionnaire as concise and single-minded as possible. If you can, aim to keep the conversation to no more than 3-5 minutes maximum.

5) Avoid leading questions  

Finally, make sure you don’t include leading questions which may encourage people to answer in a certain way. For example, asking a patient the question “Have you ever missed a dose of your medication?” or “What do you think of the dosing schedule of your medication?” is a less leading way of asking a question about their compliance to medication.

Instead of the leading question “You never miss a dose of your medication, do you?” Again, this will help ensure you don’t accidentally lead them into answering a question a certain way, thus skewing their suitability for your project.

What’s next?

We hope that you’ve found these 5 tips helpful for successfully qualifying your participants for your next research study. Although, if you still need a bit of help we’ve created an e-book on how to write effective qualifying criteria for patient market research – download it now!