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Conducting Surveys

Specific wording must be used at the beginning of your survey to meet privacy requirements. Use the template language and platforms below to help make your survey compliant.

Privacy Compliant Survey Language

We are pleased to announce new standard language for surveys available for download on the Standard Survey Language tab below. This language can be used to ensure privacy compliance in any survey study in which the survey is the only data collection tool. Recommended survey platforms can also be found on the PHSA Recommended Platforms tab below.  

This language can be used for both research and non-research surveys such as those used in QI initiatives. However, all surveys used for research must be submitted to a Research Ethics Board (REB) for review and approval and must use REB approved language.

Review criteria for non-research surveys  

Stand-alone non-research surveys that are exempted from REB review (e.g. surveys for QI or program evaluation purposes) must be reviewed by PHSA’s Information Access & Privacy Office OR the BCCDC Privacy Officer (for BCCDC employees only) if any of the below criteria are met. This does not apply to REB approved surveys.

  • The survey responses or the way in which these responses are presented or shared have the potential to increase the vulnerability of participants or put them at risk of potential harm. For example, if you were asking participants to report on criminal activity and the survey was not anonymous or if you were asking patients to report wrong doings of their health care teams and the survey was not anonymous or sharing the survey results could reasonably be expected to re-identify participants because they represent a group that is unique in some way (i.e., unique health condition, small in number).  
  • You are not planning to use one of the PHSA recommended platforms listed below. 
  • You are planning to use external vendors to analyze the personal information of participants. 
  • The survey inadvertently reveals health or personal information and that information is stored outside of Canada without consent. For example, you are using an unapproved survey platform that stores information outside of Canada and/or the survey email/link sent to the potential participant inadvertently discloses personal health information without consent (e.g., the fact that the individual received service or treatment at a particular clinic).  
  • You plan to link the results of your survey to other patient data, to data obtained through other surveys, or to data contained in other databases.
  • Personal information is collected from third parties such as family members (please note that this does not apply to those who are authorized to provide data on behalf of others such as parents and guardians).
  • If you plan to disclose any identifiable information about respondents to a third party.
  • The survey involves evaluating the programs of two or more Health Authorities. Please note that this criteria does not apply to surveys that happen to target individuals that may be patients of Multiple Health Authorities such as population wide surveys of general topics like personal opinions about end-of-life care. It is specifically intended to capture program evaluations of two or more Health Authorities. 

Need assistance?

If you need help filling out the template or would like your survey reviewed, please email PHSA's Research Privacy Advisor and she will review your submission within 3 business days upon receipt. Please note that the Research Privacy Advisor can help you to adjust the wording to meet the needs of your participants if required. You do not need to submit a survey intake form.

PHSA Recommended Platforms

PHSA Recommended Survey Platforms 

The following is a list of PHSA recommended survey tools. 

REDCap (Research Electronic Data Capture)

REDCap (Research Electronic Data Capture) is a web-based, metadata-driven EDC software solution and workflow methodology for designing and capturing data for research studies. REDCap allows users to build and manage online surveys and research databases quickly and securely. 

Available to all PHSA researchers

Effective May 24, 2018, a one-year pilot supported by PHSA Research & Academic Services and the BC Children’s Hospital Research Institute Data Management team will make REDCap available for stand-alone surveys to users from across PHSA. A sustainability plan will be developed over the course of the year based on usage. Projects onboarded during the pilot phase will be supported until they are completed regardless of project length.

Researchers must be affiliated with PHSA or its agencies in order to be eligible for this service. To learn more about the benefits of using BCCHRI-based REDCap service, eligibility, cost and policies, and how you can request access, please visit BC Children's Hospital Research Institute Data Management Team REDCap page.

Available to BC Cancer reseachers: 

BC Cancer researchers can learn more about the BC Cancer REDCap service by contacting help@bccrc.ca.

Available to GSC researchers:
GSC researchers can learn more about the GSC REDCap service by contacting Diane Miller, Project Manager at GSC.


Checkbox is a survey tool that sits on IMITS-controlled servers. It is available to all PHSA researchers and offers PHSA and agency branding.  To learn more, visit the IMITS Checkbox Surveys page.


Qualtrics is an easy-to-use, top-tier survey tool platform that offers a wide range of features. 

Available to PHSA researchers affiliates with UBC

If you are part of the UBC Community (UBC faculty, staff, or student members), you are eligible to use this tool.  To learn more, visit UBC's Survey Tool page.

Standard Survey Language

The Standard Survey Language template applies only to survey studies wherein the survey is the only data collection tool.

When using this template it is expected that you will use it verbatim unless you have contacted PHSA's Research Privacy Advisor. If justified, she will help you to adjust the wording to meet the needs of your participants.

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