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Patient surveys, interviews and focus groups

Patient feedback

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 interviews

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:

  1. Ensure that all patient and public survey activity is of a high quality.
  2. Ensure that there is a central record of any survey activity within the Trust.
  3. Identify potential overlap and links between different projects.
  4. Record any Focus Group and Unstructured Interviews that are taking place in the Trust.

In order to carry out a survey or interview you will need to email your questionnaire, QIS submission form, and covering letter to Matthew Areskog, Patient Experience Manager ( 

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. 

For surveys which don't use these pre-approved questions, QIS will review your questionnaire / methodology electronically. It is usual for further changes to be requested following the meeting and these fall into the following categories: Approved, Approved with amendments, Resubmit and Not approved. 

QIS review submissions electronically. Once your project has been approved you will be given a QIS number and you will can start your survey.

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 Watkin ( / 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

Staff surveys generally do not fall under the remit of QIS, although we are always happy to review them if we are asked to. However, it does depend on the nature of the survey and sensitivities involved, for example:

- A survey of UH Bristol staff carried out by a member of UH Bristol staff,  often does not require QIS approval

- Surveys of UH Bristol staff being carried out by an external organisation often do require QIS approval, to ensure that the survey is fit for purpose and a justifiable use of staff time

- Student surveys of UH Bristol sometimes need QIS approval, depending on the nature of the survey and whether a senior UH Bristol staff member is overseeing the survey project (often universities will also want to see QIS approval has been obtained).

If you are considering carrying out a staff survey, please contact Matthew Areskog (0117 342 3638 / for a further discussion.

*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: http://connect/governanceandquality/informationgovernance/Pages/default.aspx