How to Maintain Respondent Confidentiality During Interviews and Focus Groups

Dani Garan
Sep 27, 2019

Maintain Respondent Confidentiality during IDIs and FGDs

One of the best ways to gather data from different respondents in a short period of time is through focus group discussions, while one of the most effective ways to gain extensive insight from individuals is to conduct an in-depth interview.  Thanks to the digital revolution, in-depth interviews and focus groups can now be conducted online with the help of marketing research service providers.

However, such technological advancement also brought about more risks such as data breaches which can potentially leak a respondent or a client’s private information and which can also compromise an organization’s credibility. Considering how more and more data is being shared online, people are now purposely collecting this information so they can implement shady marketing tactics and potentially commit data privacy crimes. Fortunately, authorities all over the globe are now more aggressive in combating issues regarding data privacy.

As a market researcher, what can you do on your end to make sure you respect and maintain your respondents' data privacy?

Ways to Maintain Respondent Confidentiality in IDIs or FGDs:

Inform participants about the topic

You can’t just conduct a focus group discussion without disclosing the topic to your respondents first. This is important for them to make an informed decision whether or not they are comfortable participating. This is especially crucial for highly sensitive topics.

Justify your methods

You should be able to offer your respondents a clear justification for opting to use focus group discussions or in-depth interviews rather than other methods that are less risky in terms of obtaining information. Your means of justification should depend on the topic’s level of sensitivity.

Consent to be recorded

You should inform your participants beforehand if the session will be audio or video recorded and you must have them sign a consent form to do so. Apart from the signed consent to being recorded, you should also inform them if the recordings will be used for something other than data analysis. If you wish to use this as a reference for educational purposes, future studies, or even research conferences and seminars, respondents must specifically agree to this in the consent form as well.

Compel participants to respect others’ confidentiality 

Focus group discussion respondents must also participate in an informed consent process that will urge them to respect each other’s confidential information. Explain to them that that is the least that they can do for each other as participants.

Go for a secured service provider

This is also a crucial consideration if you are conducting IDIs and FGDs online. You should opt for a market research provider that has proven compliance with data privacy laws such as GDPR and HIPAA because then you’d know how much they value your respondents’ confidential information and how committed they are in safeguarding any and all obtained information. There are providers offering features for additional security purposes such as audio masking and video blurring which anonymizes your respondents' face and voice and eliminates the possibility of your respondents being identified by end clients.

In the end, as much as you need all the information for the success of your research study, you must remember that securing your participants’ information is priority and is of utmost importance.

Civicom® Marketing Research Services Ensures that your Data is Safe and Secure

Protect your market research data privacy and respondent PII when you partner with a reliable, secure market research services provider like Civicom. We have implemented security measures in place to keep your data from getting into the wrong hands. 

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