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Research Among Low Incidence / Hard to Reach Participants

When conducting research among low incidence or other hard to research populations, special consideration needs to be given to the research in order to successfully complete the project and drive business insights. 

Often, the survey instrument for quantitative research will include a higher number of open ended questions, as the lower volume of survey responses lends itself to a hybrid approach - the number of responses is manageable for analysis and provides significant explanatory power to the quantitative responses also collected. 

Evaluating and selecting sample sources that are vetted for providing high quality participants, and having excellent profiling data is a critical component of success in low incidence and B2B engagements. Advanis partners with several excellent sample providers in Canada, the US, and internationally. One additional benefit of this is that we find that the participants are active and engaged in the survey topic, providing detailed responses. 

Cost can be a factor in conducting low incidence studies, which makes it critical to design the study to maximize the business impact of the results collected. Survey “real estate” takes on new meaning when surveying low incidence/high cost participant groups. 

A challenge for quantitative researchers is gaining comfort working with lower base sizes, and using the appropriate cautions when interpreting results. Two key points: 1) when comparing groups, you will be limited to detecting large differences, 2) you may be limited to reporting on the total sample, and not sub-groups of interest. Appropriate small population statistical evaluations should be used.

Advanis has successfully conducted studies of low incidence groups, such as:  

  • C-Suite executives
  • Data scientists
  • Health professionals (e.g., surgeons, hospital administrators)
  • First Nations, Metis, Inuit
  • Francophones outside of Quebec
  • Smokers
  • Farmers and agri-food / agri-business
  • Individuals with specific health conditions

Photo by Matheus Bertelli from Pexels

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