Top tips for selecting a target population group for your research study

Here at Luto, we conduct studies on behalf of our clients to find out whether different types of health communications meet individual’s needs. The types of studies we conduct depend on the product or information that we are testing – and the particular feedback needed by the client. We typically recruit two types of participants:

  • People with no direct experience of the illness (or related illness) – members of the general public who do not have (or care for someone) with the relevant illness. This makes sure that we are conducting a robust test of the materials themselves – and not of the participants’ prior knowledge. The only requirement is that they are people who are in the target group for the health information – meaning that they have the potential to become a user of the information. Another way of thinking about this is that they could imagine having the illness in the near future.
  • People who have (or care for someone) with the relevant illness (or related illness). The client might particularly wish to see how people with some knowledge of the illness use and understand the materials. Also, this might be necessary if a member of the public could not imagine having the illness – because it is uncommon, such as cystic fibrosis or a rare type of cancer.

Sometimes, we decide with a client to have a mixture of the two types of participants. When we have decided on this, we need to make sure that the participants are representative of the target group – in terms of things like age and education. As an experienced Project Manager, I’ve put together a selection of “top tips”, which can be used by researchers to help select a target population group for your study.

Thinking about who to include

We have listed below some common criteria to help you think about the types of people you want to include in your study and why:

Who not to include

You also need to think about the characteristics of the people who should not take part or be eligible to take part in your study and why:

  • People with experience of a certain condition, situation or skills – for example, you may want to exclude people who are healthcare professionals as they have too much knowledge of a medicine which could result in an unfair test.
  • People with a history of drug or alcohol abuse.

These are not exhaustive lists.

Luto has an extensive database of participants, including patients and healthcare professionals that we can draw on to support your research needs. We can also provide Expert Patients and lay patient representatives. We manage all participant recruitment, so you can be assured that the participants for your study match your demographic requirements.

Do you want to make sure your user’s needs are reflected in your research?

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