Abortion Protests and Vigils: Research Information sheet for patients

IRAS ID: 320854

Invitation and brief summary

We are researching patient’s experiences of accessing abortion services in NHS clinics while a protest and vigil occurred outside.  We would like to speak to you about how the protest and vigil affected you and your experiences of the service. As part of this research we are also intending to collect data in relation to missed and cancelled appointments to see if there is any impact of protests or vigils on attendance in comparison to days when there is no activity outside of clinics.

In parallel to this Rocket Science are also conducting research with protest and vigil groups to understand their motivations for this activity, the aims of vigils and protests and what those involved see as key to achieving these aims. This is being conducted by a separate research team but the findings of this will be reported alongside our research with patients and staff.

What’s involved?

  • If you decide to take part in an interview with a fully trained member of our team, we will contact you to arrange an interview. This can be conducted face to face, by phone or online – it will be your choice how the interview takes place.
  • You will be welcome to bring someone with you to support you during the interview if you wish to do so.
  • The timing and duration of the interview will be up to you to decide. You may find it easier to do the interview in stages over the course of a few days or weeks, or one longer interview – that is up to you. We estimate that an interview will take approximately one hour.
  • All interviews will be anonymised. This is to ensure that interviews cannot be traced back to individuals through Rocket Science’s reporting.
  • We can send you the interview topic guide in advance of the interview if you wish.


The Scottish Government has commissioned this research to ensure that people accessing abortion services from an NHS clinic on a day when a vigil and protest is taking place have the chance to share their experiences if they so wish.  This is to help improve the Scottish Government’s knowledge of the short, medium, and long term impact that protest and/or vigils have on people accessing abortion services in Scotland. We are hoping to include up to 45 people in the research. The interview will take about one hour. You can decide if you’d like to do it all at once, or over a few sessions.

This research has been approved by the NHS Health Research Authority’s Research Ethics Committee.

What would taking part involve?

If you decide to take part, we will arrange a one-hour interview with you. This can take place in a manner of your choice (online, phone or face to face) and will be at a time of your choosing. You may find it easier to do the interview in stages over the course of a few days or weeks, or one longer interview – that is up to you. We will ask you how you would like us to make a record of your interview, this can be either by an audio recording, live transcription of text (if using MS Teams) or through the interviewer taking notes only. All recordings and transcriptions will be stored using a unique number and will not contain any information from which you could be identified.

As part of the consent process we will ask you for a name and contact details so we can arrange an interview with you.

As part of the interview we will ask you questions (and record your answers) about your experience of accessing the clinic when a protest or vigil was taking place. This will include if and how the activity affected you and made you feel at the time.

What we will do with your data

The answers you give us during the interview will be analysed alongside the responses from other people who have accessed services when protests or vigils have taken place. We will analyse these for themes that occur across the responses to understand what similarities and differences exist in people’s experience of accessing clinics during these times.

We will not process the name and contact details data you give us in anyway.

What are the possible benefits of taking part?

By participating in the research, you contribute to the Scottish Governments understanding of whether protests or vigils have any effect upon those accessing abortion services and whether further policy in this area may be needed.

What are the possible disadvantages and risks of taking part?

Taking part is completely voluntary. Your decision to take part, or not, will not affect your care in any way. Deciding to take part involves the risk of revisiting experiences which may be traumatic or upsetting. We are ensuring that our approach to interviews is sensitive and that you feel you have choice and control in what questions you answer, if any and how to take part in the interview If during the interview, you find the experience too upsetting we will stop the interview, rearrange if you wish and ensure that information to relevant support services is provided.

Do I have to take part?

No, you do not have to take part in this research. Participating in the research will have no impact upon the medical care you receive, and clinic staff will not be aware of whether you take part or not.

Further supporting information

What if something goes wrong?

All our interviewers are trained to deal with difficult and potentially upsetting topics in a way that is appropriate. We will be able to signpost you or, with your permission, refer you to services that can support you. You have choice and control over which, if any, questions you answer and you can stop or pause the interview at any time.  If you have any complaints about the interview or the research you can contact Cherri.Blissett@rocketsciencelab.co.uk.

What will happen if I don’t want to carry on with the research?

If you do not want to continue in the research – just tell us as soon as possible and we will withdraw your data from the research. We can do this up until the report goes for publication. We will advise you of this date. If you decide to withdraw from the research once the report has been published we will unfortunately not be able to remove your data at that point.

What data we will collect and how we will use it

We will be required to collect limited personal data in order to organise an interview with you. This will include your first name and a way of contacting you such as telephone number or email address. This will be held separately from other data gathered.

We will agree at the start of the interview how we will make a record of our conversation, whether this be audio recording, transcription or hand written notes. All information collected through the interviews will be anonymised and held separately from the personal data we collect.

Thematic analysis will be undertaken with the qualitative data gathered.

How will my information be kept confidential?

Rocket Science systems are accredited by the government approved Cyber Security Essentials Plus. This means we have the correct systems and processes in place to  keep your data on our secure in our SharePoint system. Any personal data we collect to allow us to get in touch with you will be held separately from what you tell us in your interview. This will be linked by an ID number only accessible to the research team, this will enable us to delete your data if you want to withdraw from the research after you have been interviewed.

All information you give us will be held within encrypted files only accessible to the research team and not used for any other purpose other than this research. All data will be held for 6 months following the completion of the research.

What will happen to the results of this research?

We will write up findings from the research into a report that will be sent directly to the Scottish Government. Any personal data will be destroyed after 28 days after the report is published.

Who is organising and funding this research?

The Scottish Government is funding the research and it is being organised and managed by Rocket Science, an independent research organisation.

How have patients and the public been involved in this research?

Due to the sensitive nature of the research, we have not involved any patients or the public in the design of the research.

Who has reviewed this research?

The Scottish Government has reviewed this proposed research methodology and undertaken its own ethics process.  The Research Advisory Group which is being established will provide continued oversight and guidance through the research.

How to take part

At your appointment a member of the clinical staff will provide you with information about the research. If you would like to participate then please contact us at apvstudy@rocketsciencelab.co.uk or call 0131 2264949.

Further information and contact details

If you have any further questions, please contact us on apvstudy@rocketsciencelab.co.uk.