Case Studies > Engaging with underserved populations to understand vaccines at the height of the pandemic

Engaging with underserved populations to understand vaccines at the height of the pandemic


The COVID-19 pandemic sent shockwaves across the globe affecting all pockets of society internationally and made the need for representation of the population in vaccine research more visible than ever. A top 10 pharmaceutical company approached COUCH Health to gather insight from underserved populations in the UK to understand their views and/or hesitations relating to vaccine studies. The objective was to gather at least 5,000 responses within 4 weeks in a culturally safe manner.

Having to deliver a very specific, non-digital-native target under a strict timeline, meant digital outreach out of the question. So, we had to find an outside-of-the-box research method.

How we performed

  • 6743 survey responses
  • 4 key languages
  • 4 weeks

Our approach

Instead of asking participants to come to us, we decided to reach out into existing community spaces instead. Our first step was to form an advisory board consisting of community leaders who could guide us on the best ways to reach our target populations and advise on how to share information in a culturally safe manner.

In only 3 days, we managed to hold a community advisory board with community leaders from the most diversely populated UK regions, such as:

  • Sikh leaders from Birmingham
  • Muslim clerics from Bradford
  • Hindu priests from London
  • Local health action groups


The purpose of the advisory board was to co-create a survey to ensure:

  • The correct questions – with respect to each culture- were asked
  • The language was appropriate and culturally competent
  • Participants would feel heard and comfortable completing the survey


The group also advised us on the best approaches to dissemination of the survey amongst their communities.


After the survey was created and validated by the advisory board, we also co-created communication materials with them that explained the importance of the survey’s output to the targeted populations. We then invited community leaders to circulate the materials, translated into 4 key languages, among religious and health communities across UK.



6,743 survey responses were received within 4 weeks – surpassing the sponsor’s target. The responses indicated that there would be challenges recruiting participants for COVID-19 vaccines studies and that a one-size-fits all rule would not be enough.

Informed consent was highlighted as a key area where changes were needed. Due to the feedback from the survey, COUCH Health were commissioned to rework with the Informed Consent Form (ICF) based on feedback.

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