Exclusion lists: what are they, why care?

by Nick Urda, Account Director

To most people, exclusion lists fall somewhere between the quantum void (aka, nothing) and the quark (aka, minutiae).  But – like physics – just because we don’t think deeply about them, doesn’t mean they aren’t important!

What & Why

An exclusion list is needed when multiple panel providers are brought in to support a study.  If a healthcare professional (HCP) receives a study invite through one panel provider and either terminates at some point or completes the study, then we do not want that respondent to be invited by another panel provider.  We add the respondent to the exclusion list and share the list with the other panel providers, so they do not send that same survey invitation to that same HCP.

Sidenote: Although Reckner typically completes 90% of studies with our own panel, when we do bring on a partner for our data collection, we provide an exclusion list.  And since we often serve as a partner for other provider’s studies, we also ask for exclusion lists, so that we can tailor the distribution of our invitations accordingly.

If all this seems like we’re splitting hairs atoms, we understand. And yet, exclusion lists are an essential element in sample management.  Here’s why:

Respondent Duplication

An exclusion list avoids respondent duplication.  If multiple panel providers are brought in for the same study, how does each one know that the people responding to their survey invitation have not already participated in that survey?  This is especially critical when panel providers are matching to a list since the population of potential respondents is limited to that list.

True, some panel providers do utilize IP address verification technology to minimize duplication, but IP addresses vary from home to office (or for that matter, Starbucks), so providing the first 3 letters of the last and first names is a more accurate method for avoiding respondent duplication.

Respondent Experience

An exclusion list avoids sending an invite to an HCP who has already not qualified for that study.  This helps minimize the “bad press” the MR industry often gets when a respondent spends time in the screener but doesn’t qualify. This is particularly important for in-demand and hard-to-recruit specialties, because we need to ensure positive relationships with our most engaged HCPs.

Respondent Transparency

An exclusion list provides some level of quality control for the primary panel provider and the MR agency/client.  Especially when working on a difficult recruit, an exclusion list can provide assurance that panel partners are not further subcontracting out the recruit without your knowledge.

Respondent Fatigue

As an industry, we often talk about respondent fatigue and how it is becoming more difficult to recruit HCPs for studies.  Perhaps a reason for this is that there are studies that do not use exclusion lists, so respondents are getting invited to the same study multiple times, from different panel providers.  If you consider that honoraria rates may change with each invite, this can further contribute to fatigue and frustration.

Final Thoughts

Respondent duplication, poor MR experience, absence of transparency, and HCP fatigue.  Like my physics class in 12th grade, I would really rather not go there. That’s why (despite having so many other things to think about!) managing the respondent list is significant, because like quarks and leptons, everything comes from it.