We regularly conduct market research among patients, and for some projects we ask health professionals to pass on details of the project to patients to invite their participation. A concern sometimes voiced by health professionals is whether there is a need for ethics committee approval for such research.
The short answer to this is ‘no’; when conducting market research, ethics committee approval is not normally required. We have found it useful in such cases to forward to health professionals the Department of Health document ‘Governance arrangements for research ethics committees’ which confirms that ethics committee approval is not generally required for market research among patients.
If you would like to read a copy, the guidance document is available here