Interview with Layla Shea, 2012 QRCA Qually Award Winner
Big congratulations go out to Layla Shea, of Victoria, British Columbia, and her client, The Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of Canada, for receiving QRCA’s 2012 Qually Award, which recognizes excellence in global qualitative research. Layla’s extensive usage of NewQual methods was instrumental in gaining critical patient insights and helping the client achieve their goals.
Layla Shea, the President of Upwards Marketing Solutions, Victoria, British Columbia, received QRCA’s 2012 Qually Award on Friday, April 27, 2012 via video streaming, during the closing ceremonies of the 2012 AQR/QRCA Conference in Rome.
In a subsequent interview, Layla shared some of the unique challenges in conducting qualitative research with Crohn’s Disease and Colitis sufferers and how she used the online discussion board approach to meet them.
Her client, The Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of Canada (CCFC), wanted to better understand the challenges and information needs of people who are living with the diseases. The online discussion board approach was chosen because it allowed people to participate when it was convenient for them (regardless of the severity of their disease). It enabled the client and research team to have a longer term connection with them and allowed them to connect with each other over the course of 10 days. The online approach was also much friendlier on their limited budget.
Layla encouraged participants to be really open about this sensitive topic. This included sharing a lot about herself, allowing them the option to opt out of questions that were too personal (which none ever did) and encouraging use of their own names. The openness allowed them to form a powerful support network that endured long after the research. She was careful to make the board flexible and enjoyable to limit any stress that could trigger episodes.
To learn what a “Day in the Life” of a Crohn’s disease or Colitis sufferer is like, she started each day with a poll of whether it was a good day or bad day and why. Other exercises included: using a picture sort projective technique to explore participants’ feelings before and after diagnosis, writing “Your 2¢” advice letters to an imaginary friend who had just been diagnosed and creating “Let’s Vent” rants about everything that frustrates them. Layla probed the information participants had accessed before and after they were diagnosed and learned why they had not gained access to information when they needed it. She also found that just having information is not enough; sufferers of Crohn’s and Colitis need the appropriate support and empowerment during various stages of their condition and this critical piece had been missing from the CCFC program.
Layla always synthesizes participant input as it comes in and shares “nuggets” with the client as she uncovers them. This approach enabled the CCFC clients to internalize the findings as they were happening and modify later questions; it also facilitated the report writing. Importantly, Layla made the research relevant to her client by visualizing the main results via one page key visuals, so they could easily grasp the learning and quickly take action.
INFORMATION DOES NOT EQUAL POWER:
INFORMATION NEEDS BY STAGE:
Finally, Layla shared 3 pieces of advice to anyone who is new to online discussion boards:
- Use technology to its best advantage by employing interesting activities to engage participants rather than simply asking questions.
- Do the analysis while reading through participants’ responses the first time, so “the report almost writes itself.”
- Leave open slots at the end of the research to deep-dive on important things that are learned along the way.