At PRS IN VIVO, the health, safety and comfort of our team, clients, research partners and respondents has always been our primary concern.
As the pandemic engulfed the world, in-person fieldwork was paused, clients postponed projects that were planned or placed a moratorium on all research until lockdown is relaxed. But all our clients have indicated an urgent desire to return to in-person research as soon as procedures and oversight make it safe to do so.
As we see restrictions related to COVID-19 lifted and a return to in-context research, we are committed to doing everything we can to ensure that clients can do so with assurances and confidence.
And we are happy to report, applying our expertise and guidance as trusted advisors, in the true spirit of collaboration, we reopened global fieldwork several weeks ago in the US and Europe and a few months ago in China. By employing data driven decision making and implementing protocols based on the guidelines unique to each region, we are making recommendations on a study by study basis, guided by three principles: Safety, Clarity and Transparency.
Before the pandemic, we had built an enviable track record for trust with clients based on our experienced field managers coordinating a global network of facilities and recruitment partners. Lockdown may have temporarily interrupted an unfettered ability to conduct in-person research, but the experience of establishing reliable processes, checks and balances in normal circumstances, has enabled us to draw on those elements we knew to be critical to build a plan for moving forward. Since the outbreak and lockdowns cascaded across the world, creating the circumstances for shutdown, we have been also been focused on dissecting the factors and challenges to returning. This enabled us to create a plan and highly reliable set of criteria that allows clients to feel confident to return to the field, region by region, project by project as the crisis subsides.
We aggregated all the principles and guidelines from global health organizations, industry bodies like the MRS, the Insights Association and ESOMAR, triangulating these with the regional governmental regulations to build best guidelines for moving any study forward. We are carefully monitoring and mandating “best practices”, establishing clear requirements with partners for social distancing, disinfecting facilities and equipment, managing respondents’ participation in contactless interviewing protocols in full compliance with CDC and local government guidelines.
Our systems of partner monitoring globally and crystal clear guidelines has provided the foundation for reopening which commenced over two weeks ago in the US and Europe.
As of today, we have facilities compliant with our criteria for reopening executing in-person studies in 18 locations in the US, 5 in France, 2 in Italy and Germany respectively. And we have conducted numerous interviews with client commitments in the coming weeks for fielding more. Certain locations in Asia have returned to the field much more quickly, whereas we are advising our clients to pause on some locations in Latin and South America based on the progression of the virus in the local populations. We are monitoring each study carefully to detect any anomalies in recruitment or respondents’ behavior in order to ensure reliability of the results of the research. We can happily report that while recruitment has been somewhat slower than pre-pandemic response rates, we have proactively implemented measures to maximize through put thereby allowing us to meet our client’s timelines.
We are hopeful that all of our updates can be good news, with our facilities and locations continuing to see positive results, staying open and adding capacity, and that more and more facilities will join them processing fieldwork. But we are realistic that recurrences in outbreaks may make these situations fluid. You can count on us to continue to rigorously monitor all the indicators and provide complete transparency regarding the field circumstances as they evolve globally, and within the sub regions in each country. Check our website for regular, candid “Updates from the Field” as we continue our return to in-person research.
Together with clients, who are cautiously but enthusiastically committing to return to in-context research, we are navigating our way safely though the impact of COIVD-19. Our mission remains to allow clients to understand reliably and accurately, predict & influence consumer choice with confidence and reassurance.
Anne Martin, PRS IN VIVO’s Global Director of Field Operations. If you would like to know more about best practices for in person research in a post pandemic world, she can be reached at Anne.Martin@prs-invivo.com