Video Diaries in Medical Market Research

Video Diaries in Medical Market Research

Video diaries are becoming an increasingly popular tool in voice of customer market research.

Never has it been easier conduct video research thanks to the prevalence of smartphones and a wide number of apps and online platforms. These enable seamless collection and analysis of data, and most are GDPR and/or HIPAA compliant.

While video diaries provide a unique insight into the lives of patients and healthcare professionals, there are both positives and negatives to using this approach:

Pros and cons of video diaries:




·        There is less dependency on respondent recall.

·        Respondents may discuss important topics that they may otherwise consider too minor to mention in an interview or notice nuances in their workflow they would not otherwise have recognised.

·        Ability to see exactly what it is the respondent is discussing (less need for interpretation).

·        By combining video diaries with other research methods, overall data collection can be far richer than it otherwise would be.

·        Respondents may be inclined to be more candid because they are not directly faced with a moderator.

·        It is interesting to watch their interpretations of the tasks and the different approaches they may use.

·        The environment is less controlled than a typical interview.

·        Opportunity to observe similarities and differences between the respondents besides those identified in the screener e.g., confidence on topic, candidness.

·        Videos make much more striking and memorable contributions to research than typical methods.

·        Although video diaries are meant to be less “controlled” than other methods, the heavily contrived nature of setting the tasks still means that the data collected is not spontaneous.

·        Respondents would not typically perform the same behaviours or have the same discussions as they will on camera.

·        Researchers must be aware that respondents may try to portray themselves in a better light e.g., not skip steps in a process, or have politer conversations.

·        Similarly, respondents may be inclined to self-monitor during their tasks, e.g., try to please the investigators, try not to say the wrong thing, or censor what they are saying or showing by shooting multiple videos.

·        Lack of moderation means it can be harder to follow up with respondents if they have missed something from their tasks.

·        Depending on the amount of data collected, it can be a lot more time consuming to analyse results, as videos must be watched in real time.


Video diaries can be quite cost and time-effective when compared to traditional ethnographic methodologies.

However, there are lots of other things to consider when contemplating using video diaries for your market research study.

Before undertaking video-based research, ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Is this the most appropriate methodology for the type of medical market research being undertaken?

  2. Should video diaries be combined with another methodology?

  3. What platform is most appropriate for this audience?

  4. How do you ensure the responses are sufficiently spontaneous?

  5. Will facilities and organisations permit their employees to capture images and videos at work?

  6. How will you manage data security and the exclusion of non-participants?

  7. How will you analyse the data?


Below is a list of IDR Medical’s key dos and don'ts when it comes to designing studies which incorporate video diaries:



  • make it very clear what is expected of respondents when they are recruited and ensure it is very easy for them to complete and upload their diaries.

  • ensure tasks do not require significant time sacrifices (I.e., do not ask for more than 20-30 minutes of time each week), otherwise it will be hard for you to retain respondents.

  • if you are combining video diaries with another medical market research methodology, such as interviews, where possible, conduct the interviews after all the diaries are complete so you can seek clarifications on all videos.

  • reassure respondents about the security of their data and that it will not be used outside the confines of the study.

  • find an appropriate way to politely encourage or remind participants to film their diaries. Depending on the time pressure, this could be using regular alerts or reminder emails, or even calling them occasionally.



  • make instructions overly complex or ask too much of your participants. If they are confused or demotivated by what they are being asked to do, your data collection will be poor. It is better to ask for fewer tasks that they can complete at their own discretion.

  • allow the study to run forever! Participants need a defined study period. Particularly in medical market research, this time period should be relatively constrained as participants will lose motivation if it lasts too long.

  • allow second-party individuals to be recorded as this often complicates permissions more than is needed e.g., healthcare professionals should not record videos of their patients.

  • forget that there will not be a moderator to clarify instructions at the time. This is especially important if translating the guide into other languages.


If you are investigating medical workflows or unmet needs and need guidance on research strategy or any other service do not hesitate to contact us.

We would be delighted to offer a primary consultation, consisting of an initial discussion by telephone or face-to-face, to outline our proposed research approach, with explanation and rationale.

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