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Code of Conduct

Key Research Stages - Before Fieldwork

I. Incentives



 An 'incentive' is any benefit given to a MR subject to encourage participation in a market research study and should be:

  • Dependent only on the correct completion of a questionnaire/interview and not on any additional conditions in the case of one-off surveys
  • Kept to a minimum
  • Appropriate to the time involved
  • No more than the fair market value  for that individual’s professional consultancy or advice
  • Appropriate to the MR subject type
  • Appropriate to the task(s)
  • For patients/members of the public it is a token of appreciation – not a fee for time
  • Handled only by the agency however if the market research is conducted by a company’s in-house researchers, MR subjects’ personal data MUST NOT be accessible to company personnel outside the research team.
MR subjects must be clearly informed:


  • Who will administer the incentive
  • What the incentive will be
  • When the participant will receive the incentive
  • If any conditions are attached e.g. completion of a specific task or passing of quality control checks 



Panel members should be made aware of the approximate level of commitment and/or length of time required before the incentive will be paid.

Incentives – Country Exceptions


In Denmark, ENLI member companies are required to pay incentives to healthcare professionals in cash (cheques, bankers drafts and bank transfers are acceptable).  In addition, nurses must be treated as non-HCPs, so incentives should be similar to patients rather than physicians.


 In Greece, SfEE member companies should not pay incentives:

  • To healthcare professionals for fieldwork that lasts longer than 2 hours, fieldwork may last more than 2 hours but incentives cannot exceed 2 hours of incentives
  • Directly to healthcare professionals, the transaction should involve an intermediary e.g. an agency or recruiter.


In Korea KRPIA members MUST report market research survey incentives quarterly.  Food, drink and "compensatory gifts" up to a value of KRW 100,000 per HCP may be provided.  In addition, if the surveys takes 30 minutes or more to answer "compensatory payment" of up to KRW 100,000 per HCP may be provided.


In the Netherlands CGR (Stichting Code Geneesmiddel Reclame) guidelines state that incentives should be based upon the hourly tariffs set by the NZa (Nederlandse Zorg authoriteit, the Dutch Healthcare Authority) and that the distinction between the incentive and expenses is clear.


In Poland and Russia, if the sum total of incentives paid to a MR subject exceeds a specific level (250 PLN in Poland and 4000 RUR in Russia) within a year, the tax authorities should be advised.


In Spain, payment of incentives MUST be in cash (cheques and bankers drafts are acceptable). Exceptionally, and with the prior authorisation of the CPSU some payments in kind may be made. For further country specific details of incentives regulations, recommendations and preferences please see EphMRA’s Overview of Incentives


In Sweden LIF guidelines state that the maximum incentive should be 2.5% of the current KPI.

Incentives that are Not Allowed


Incentives are not allowed in the following situations:

  • That could influence opinion or behaviour e.g. to encourage use of a drug; excessive payments that could be seen as an attempt to buy good opinion or reward use
  • That require the MR subject to spend money
  • That are made up of the sponsoring client’s goods, services or vouchers for these
  • As a covert means (alongside supposed market research questions) to collect personal data.

Free Prize Draws


With regard to free prize draws, i.e. a draw where prizes are allocated by chance, with no payment to enter, MR subjects MUST NOT be required to do anything (other than participate in the market research) to be eligible for entry to a free prize draw.  ‘Free’ includes any method of communication (post, telephone or other) at a standard rate.  The MRS Regulations for Administering Incentives and Free Prize Draws February 2012 provide further details of the rules in the UK.  

National laws governing free prize draws vary widely in Europe, so care must be taken to ensure the prize draw is carried out in compliance with local law, including registering the draw with the relevant authority and arranging for the draw to be administered by public notary or other official as required by local law.

4.44 In Mexico, the Secretary of  Governance is responsible for authorising prize draws.  There are specific requirements including registration for prize draws open to the public.  Legal counsel should be obtained in order to determine if a prize draw or raffle within a specific survey population should be considered a public or private / closed event.
4.45 'Rules Governing Sweepstakes’ in the USA are provided by CASRO and available to members on the CASRO website CASRO specifically state that "this is an evolving body of law” and that "it is not possible to construct a set of rules and practices that we can guarantee will comply with every applicable law. Anyone running sweepstakes, especially online, should have their counsel carefully monitor state and federal legislation and court decisions in this area.”

Confidentiality of Recipients’ Incentive Data


The personal data of MR subjects eligible for incentives are confidential, so cannot be passed to clients without consent, this consent MUST NOT be linked to receipt of an incentive.

Storing Incentive Details


In Germany and in Italy tax laws make it necessary to store the private address data of MR subjects receiving incentives for the length of time required by tax law. The same is true in Poland for incentives above a specific level.   In the Netherlands tax laws make it necessary to store the confirmation of receipt of incentives, for the length of time required by law.  Personal data MUST be stored in a way that ensures the date of the interview is identifiable but prevents personal data being linked to response data.


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