Field workers did not completely adhere to study protocol
Some field workers did not completely adhere to study protocols, although the majority stated they adhered to the protocols on privacy, confidentiality, consent procedure, and recruitment guidelines. Some of their responses include;
“We were able to adhere to the protocol let’s say 99% as a person I cannot speak for the others but as a person I was able to do that on the field.”(007_grp1)
“Study protocol on research is a thing that you have been instructed on before you go out to the field and adhering strictly to research protocols is one of the research ethics that is needed to get a good data. As a Research Assistant, I have always been adhering because I know the consequence of any flaws” (004_grp2)
“I adhered to the study protocol up to say 85-90% of it. The only thing I had challenge with was most times while I am conducting interview, my mind will have skipped the consent part, then when I remember I will quickly give the consent. Apart from that every other thing I am supposed to do I did.” (IDI 001_grp1)
Reasons for non-adherence to research protocols on recruitment
The stated reasons for non-adherence included pressure to interview many respondents in order to earn good income daily and lack of familiarity with the study site prior to study commencement, which increased the chance of teams visiting the same study area twice.
“During the field work as time went on we were actually recruiting more than one study participant per household because it was becoming difficult to identify children 0-5 years old. So in households where there were more than one child 0-5years per household, +we had to do the two children of the mother” (002_grp1)
“We did not adhere to our enumeration areas in the field because it was difficult tracking it so sites were visited twice. For instance there were places we got to and we were told they had been examined while some did not talk because they wanted us to examine them again. Some told us honestly that they want to be examined again. I am sure because of cases like that we might have repeated some interviews.” (002_grp1)
Reasons for non-adherence to research protocols on privacy
Respondents stated that they tried to ensure the privacy of research participants even when the participants did not see the need for it. Meeting study participants in their homes also prevented holding private interviews.
“But there were a few challenges as some of the respondents would say they want to be where people are and did not want any form of privacy.” (002_grp 1)
“There was no sensitive question in fact there are some questions while asking a respondent that it is the neighbour that will be answering for them. There was no shy moment so privacy was not really taken seriously”. (P3)
Reasons for non-adherence to research protocol on confidentiality
The ability to keep data confidential was enhanced by using electronic devices for collecting participant information. None of the participants reported a breach in confidentiality.
Reasons for non-adherence to research protocols on informed consent
Adherence to the consent process was not perfect. Reasons for non-adherence included forgetting to administer the consent form before commencing interviews, fatigue and pressure to do as many interviews within the shortest time possible. Not all the research field workers felt it important to get participants’ consent, despite their training on the importance of consent.
“I actually was forgetting the consent part. We may have been working and not getting study participants recruited. When suddenly we get them, we will be so excited and just go ahead to collect the data forgetting to fill the consent form.” (001_grp1)
“In all sincerity once in a while, I did no administer the consent forms. I did a research without giving the respondent a consent form to fill. When I have a willing respondent from the discussion, the willingness could imply that the person has given consent but will not get to sign the paper which is the practical part.” (003_grp 2)
Respondents’ recommendations to improve research protocol adherence
Suggestions for improving adherence to research protocols included continual field supervision and monitoring to ensure compliance; giving adequate for data collection in order to reduce the workload and prevent protocol deviation to meet set targets; and providing field workers with adequate remuneration to prevent the pressure for meeting personal income targets.
“I think monitoring is important. Protocol will always be on paper, but there should be a monitoring process such that people will not be able to digress from the essence of the study.” (001_grp1)
“It is just training and monitoring and supervision. We should have supervisors that would always come around to ensure that you are doing what you are supposed to do.” (002_grp1)
“It is important to make the people in the communities aware of the study so they know what to expect, prepare their minds for the research and this will improve privacy.” (003_grp2)
“Debriefing should happen every 2-3 days to discuss challenges in the field. This can then be resolved before the next field visit.” (002_grp1)
“Limit the number of study participants per field worker. This means get a lot more research assistant to conduct the work so that each research assistant will do less work” (006_grp2)