Patient surveys, interviews and focus groups
There are a number of reasons for eliciting feedback from
patients and the public. For example, you might want to carry out a
survey to find out what people think about your service, or perhaps
run a focus group to explore a certain issue in-depth. Some
services have "patient panels" who work with the management team on
key decisions. If you are planning a new service, or changing
the way you provide an existing service, you may be required
by law to involve service-users in this process (see Section 242
link on the left of this page).
Trust approval process - surveys and semi-structured
UH Bristol surveys being carried out with patients/members of
the public for service evaluation or audit purposes, need to be
approved by the Trust's Questionnaire, Interview & Survey Group
(QIS) before they are carried out. Surveys being carried out as
part of a formal research project will need to be approved by a
Research Ethics Committee (see link on the left hand side of this
page). The purpose of QIS is to:
- Ensure that all patient and public survey activity is of a
- Ensure that there is a central record of any survey activity
within the Trust.
- Identify potential overlap and links between different
- Record any Focus Group and Unstructured Interviews that are
taking place in the Trust.
A list of the QIS meeting dates and submission deadlines
for 2013 can be found here (as a rule of thumb, QIS meets on
the first Tuesday of each month with the deadline being 12pm the
Friday before, although ocassionally this changes):
QIS Dates 2013
In order to carry out a survey or interview you will need
to email your questionnaire, QIS submission form, and covering letter to Paul Lewis, Patient
Involvement Coordinator (firstname.lastname@example.org).
We strongly encourage the use of pre-validated questions from
the Picker Institute patient experience question bank wherever
possible (see Survey Tips and Useful Links section on the left
hand side of this page). If your questionnaire is made up of
questions from the Picker Insitute questionnaires then you will
usually be eligible to have your survey fast-tracked through the
QIS process. This means you will not have to wait for the monthly
meeting to have your project reviewed / approved and that we will
only really be checking your covering letter, methodology (via the
submission form) and formating.
For surveys which don't use these pre-approved questions, QIS
will review your questionnaire / methodology at their monthly
meeting. It is usual for further changes to be requested following
the meeting and these fall into three categories:
Minor Amendments: these are usually minor formatting /
spelling issues. In this case you would be asked to make any
changes and, upon doing so, you can use the questionnaire.
Chairman's Approval:this means that the changes being
requested are more substantial than in the case of "Minor
Amendments". Once these changes have been made, the QIS Chairman
will review the project before it can go ahead. However, this
review can happen at any time so you do not have to wait for a QIS
Re-submission: if significant design changes
are required, the project will need to be re-submitted to QIS
at a later meeting for consideration by the whole group.
Not approved: where there is a serious ethical or
methodological reason why the survey cannot be conducted.
You will usually be advised of the QIS feedback within three
days of the meeting (if you don't hear back please get in touch
with Paul Lewis on x23638). Once your project has been approved you
will be given a QIS number and you will can start your survey.
If there is a valid reason why you are unable to wait
until the next QIS meeting to get your project approved (typically
this would be due to urgent Trust business, or
academic deadlines), please contact Paul Lewis (x23638) to discuss.
In normal circumstances however it is expected that projects are
reviewed at the monthly QIS meeting.
Focus groups/unstructured interviews
If you are conducting a focus group or unstructured interview as
part of a service evaluation or audit, you should contact Tony
/ 0117 342 3729), who will be able to provide general advice and
will also notify QIS that your project is taking place.
These do not have to go through the formal QIS process
described above but are noted on our database.
Staff surveys / interviews do not have to be approved by QIS
before use, but we would strongly encourage you to do so in order
to ensure that the survey is fit for purpose. In any event you
should contact Paul Lewis for an informal discussion about your
staff survey in the first instance, to talk through your plans and
to check whether it needs to go through any other Trust approval
*Formal research projects will need to be approved by a
Research Ethics Committee. Please note that if a REC determines
that your work is "service evaluation" you will
need to submit it to QIS.
Diagnostic / treatment questionnaires
Standardised questionnaires used as a diagnostic or treatment
tool for an individual patient (rather than to draw wider
inferences about a patient group or population) are for use at the
discretion of the clinician responsible for that patient's care and
do not require QIS approval.
Information Governance and Data Protection
It is the responsibility of the project lead (i.e. the
lead person carrying out the survey, interview, or focus
group) to ensure that the Trust's Information Governance and
Data Protection policies are adhered to at all times. Further
information can be found on the Trust's intranet: