MMR Research: Covid Policy

Aim

The aim of this policy is to implement protocols that, where possible, enable MMR and its clients to continue consumer research studies, whilst safeguarding research participants and staff against the COVID-19 threat as far as is reasonably practical. Safety of participants and staff is paramount.

Basis of policy

  1. MMR’s response will reflect current government and WHO advice relevant to each country/region. Specific actions may need to be adjusted to accord with local cultural traditions or expectations.
  2. The intent of this policy is to safeguard research participants and staff during consumer research fieldwork. The aim is to minimise the risk of exposure to and transmission of the COVID-19.
  3. Our aim is to adopt sensible, practical safeguarding measures that are protective, but also enable research to continue in circumstances where the MMR Board feels it is appropriate.
  4. The recommendations in this policy are based on a considered analysis of the situation and enable MMR to respond consistently across our global business operations.
  5. The policy will be updated regularly as the evolving situation demands.

Restriction of fieldwork locations

Fieldwork may be suspended in a country or region depending on government/WHO policy, safety of staff/research participants and confidence of the general public.

A list of Restricted Country/Regions will be maintained and updated by MMR and is available on request.

We recognize restriction or suspension of fieldwork due to the COVID-19 may have commercial implications for MMR, its fieldwork partners and its clients. We will work together to mitigate the impact by continuing fieldwork operations whenever it is safe and prudent to do so.

Recruitment of research participants

All research projects involving personal contact with consumers, or delivery of products to consumers homes, will screen consumers using the following questions (in addition to the usual screening questions):

CLTs ONLY/OR IF CONSUMER COLLECTING PRODUCT

SQ1.Single (Select only one answer)

Have you or anyone you live with travelled outside of the country in the past two weeks?

Yes

1

CLOSE

No

2


CLTs ONLY/OR IF CONSUMER COLLECTING PRODUCT

SQ3.Single (Select only one answer)

Do you or anyone you live with plan to travel outside of the country between now and <insert FW dates>?

Yes

1

CLOSE

No

2


CLTs AND HUT

SQ4.Single(Select only one answer)

Have you, or any of your household, suffered from flu, fever or a persistent cough in the past 2 weeks, even if only slightly?

Yes

1

CLOSE

No

2


CLTs AND HUT

SQ5.Single(Select only one answer)

Have you, or anyone you have knowingly been in close proximity with, been told to self-isolate because of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) in the past 2 weeks?

Yes

1

CLOSE

No

2

Face-to-face recruitment & product delivery

  • Avoid people who look visibly unwell
  • Stand at least 1m/3ft (or local guidance whichever is greater) away from the potential participant
  • Carry tissues and bacterial wipes and throw away in a bin any which are used
  • Avoid touching your nose, mouth or eyes
  • Avoid any physical contact such as shaking an individual’s hand
  • See MMR Product Sample Handling SOP in Appendix for product packing/placing protocols

Communication to participants about product packing and delivery safeguards

When a project involves product testing, the following text can be used to reassure participants that product deliveries pose no significant COVID-19 risk.


For inclusion in screener


If you agree to take part you will be sent some <products> to your home. MMR would like to reassure you that the individuals involved in the packing of these products will have been screened for symptoms and likely exposure to the virus and additional hygiene measures are in place when handling items. We would like to remind you to follow social distancing advice when taking delivery of packages, please avoid close contact with the delivery person and maintain at least 1m/3ft (or local guidance whichever is greater) distance at all times. On receipt of your delivery, please remove the outer bag/box and throw away in the trash immediately and then wash your hands and follow the instructions in the pack.


If reassuring them after recruitment


Dear respondent,

With regards to the survey you recently completed about <category>.

In the next few days you will receive your <products> which will be delivered to your home. MMR would like to reassure you that the individuals involved in the packing of these products have been screened for symptoms and likely exposure to the virus and additional hygiene measures are in place when handling items. We would like to remind you to follow social distancing advice when taking delivery of packages, please avoid close contact with the delivery person and maintain at least 1m/3ft (or local guidance whichever is greater) distance at all times. On receipt of your delivery, please remove the outer bag/box and throw away in the trash immediately and then wash your hands and follow the instructions in the pack.

Face to face fieldwork venue & logistic supplier protocols (to include CLT & viewing facilities)

The following protocols are to be included in all future planning and execution of research projects involving personal contact with consumers, or delivery of products to consumers’ homes, in any country which has reported positive test result cases of COVID-19. These requirements will be included in relevant field briefing documents.

Screening of participants & staff (MMR and fieldwork/logistics suppliers)

  1. Re-screen participants using the Health and Contacts Declaration Form - Consumers.
  2. Check participant temperature. Temperature checking is not mandatory. This is a country specific recommendation that will follow local custom and will be decided after consultation between an MMR Director (responsible for the region) or their representative and the fieldwork agencies. The decision to implement temperature screening will consider practices being implemented in other public operations in the country. Participants who have temperatures measured greater than 38° C or 100.4 F will be excluded.

    Staff screening participants should also look for the following symptoms of illness: fever; persistent cough; breathing difficulties. Participants exhibiting any of these symptoms should be excluded.
  3. Check venue/logistics staff. All venue staff (CLT, qual viewing facility, logistics supplier and delivery drivers) to self-certify on the health and contact screener questions using the “Heath & Contacts Declaration Form – STAFF AND CLIENTS” before the first fieldwork session or delivery begins, and on each day of fieldwork. Any staff member who fails any of the questions must not work in the venue/delivery. Completed forms must be collated and submitted as part of the fieldwork/logistics deliverables.

Operational safeguards – venues and logistics suppliers

WHO advice on avoiding spread of CoV

    1. Wash hands regularly with soap and hot water (best option) or use sanitizer gel (alternative)
    2. Have tissues readily available.
    3. Throw away used tissues
    4. Cover mouth and nose with a tissue (NOT hands) when coughing or sneezing.
    5. Avoid close contact with people who display indications of being unwell. Ideally keep 1 meter (3 feet) away.
    6. Avoid touching the nose, mouth or eyes if hands are not clean.
    7. Use bacterial wipes to clean work surfaces including phones, keyboards, laptops, etc.
  1. Wearing of Masks. Until further notice, consumers must be instructed at recruitment to bring a suitable face covering with them which they will need to wear at all times, other than when they are sat at their desk/table. Venue staff, MMR staff and clients must wear face coverings at all times unless socially distanced. If a consumer, member of staff or visitor forgets to bring one they should be offered a disposable one or may be asked to leave; if they refuse to wear one they may be asked to leave the venue.
  2. Implement hand washing. All participants to either wash hands (soap and water) or use alcohol-based hand gel to clean hands on arrival at the venue. Hand washing facilities or hand gel is to be readily available in the venue so that staff can clean their hands regularly and, at a minimum, at the start of every session or before handling any food or beverage products.
  3. Follow good hygiene and food service best practice must be implemented as is usually required (including using gloves when serving food).
  4. Implement surface sanitation. Tables, desks, serving areas and door handles must be wiped with alcohol based wipes before and in-between sessions as appropriate.
  5. Maintain Separation. Space people at least 1m/3ft (or local guidance whichever is greater) apart. Use desk dividers wherever possible.
  6. Minimize congregations of people (e.g. waiting areas) by staggering session start times or by any other means practical.

Attendance at fieldwork and MMR offices:

All MMR staff and clients who plan to prepare/deliver product, attend FW or visit MMR offices must self-certify on the health and contact screener questions by completing a “Heath & Contacts Declaration Form –Staff AND Clients” at the point of commissioning and wait for approval before making any plans or travel arrangements. Post commissioning the situation will be monitored incase there are changes in local policy that prevent/open up the option for travel to fieldwork/MMR offices and MMR Staff/Clients must self certify again before travelling whilst also making sure they comply with any local requirements before they travel to the region. Self certification must then take place again on attending the fieldwork/office. The form must be retained by MMR, in the case of fieldwork the venue must retain and submit to MMR as part of the fieldwork deliverables. Anyone who fails any of the questions must not prepare/deliver product or attend the fieldwork or visit an MMR office.


Wherever possible fieldwork should be attended by staff and clients based in the same country.

Importing products

The WHO state that the likelihood of an infected person contaminating commercial goods is low and the risk of catching the virus that causes COVID-19 from a package that has been moved, travelled, and exposed to different conditions and temperature is also low. There is therefore very low risk associated with international shipping of products (AIG Insurance Chief Medical Officer confirmed this). We can therefore continue with international sourcing/shipping of products. Anyone preparing or delivering products must follow the safeguarding protocols described in this document. Safeguarding principles need to be implemented during delivery (maintain at least 2m separation from people, don’t make physical contact).

Additional fieldwork costs for implementing well-being precautions

Some of the actions that the fieldwork partners will have to take will incur small additional costs (e.g. handwash, thermometers, re-screening of consumers) which MMR and the fieldwork partners will pay. If the fieldwork partner expects to incur significant additional costs, this will be discussed and a fair division of costs agreed between the client, the field agency and MMR.

Project postponement and cancellation

MMR will work with its clients and fieldwork partners to minimize the impact of COVID-19 on project schedules. However, the situation is still evolving in many countries/regions which could impact project timings. We envisage this will mostly result in rescheduling or postponement of fieldwork. In all circumstances MMR will keep clients informed of the situation and will discuss the impact of operational decisions on project timing and costs.

There are two situations when projects could be postponed or cancelled as a result of COVID-19:


1. POSTPONEMENT/CANCELLATION RESULTING FROM OFFICIAL ADVICE: When government or WHO advice precludes face to face fieldwork in a country/region MMR will work with fieldwork partners to avoid or minimize postponement or cancellation costs incurred as a result of COVID-19 impact. Careful monitoring of the situation and communication between MMR, the field partners and the clients should enable action to be taken to re-schedule work before significant costs are incurred. In the event postponement/cancellation costs are incurred, these costs will be invoiced to the client. Our intent is to minimise the impact of COVID-19 on projects (logistics and costs) and we will work closely with our clients to achieve this in an open and fair way.


2. PRE-EMPTIVE POSTPONEMENT/CANCELLATION BY CLIENTS: Clients who postpone or cancel before official advice requires such action, will be liable for any postponement or cancellation costs. MMR will work with fieldwork partners to avoid or minimize postponement or cancellation costs incurred as a result of COVID-19 impact.


Policy Directive Issued by: Chris Rogers, MMR Group Operations Director.

Downloads

MMR Product Sample Handling SOP


Health Declaration Form

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