Research fatigue occurs when an individual or population of interest tires of engaging with research, consequently avoiding further participation. This paper considers research fatigue in the context of the current COVID-19 pandemic, to identify contributory factors and possible solutions for future post-disaster research.
The authors draw on examples from the literature and their own observations from the recruitment and data collection phases of qualitative and quantitative studies, to provide an overview of possible research fatigue in the current COVID-19 pandemic, with implications for future post-disaster research.
People affected by disasters sometimes receive multiple requests for study participation by separate teams who may not necessarily be coordinating their work. Not keeping participants informed of the research process or outcomes can lead to disillusionment. Being overburdened with too many research requests and failing to see any subsequent changes following participation may cause individuals to experience research fatigue.
Guidelines for researchers wishing to reduce the occurrence of research fatigue include ensuring greater transparency within research; sharing of results and using oversight or gatekeeper bodies to aid coordination. Failure to restrict the number of times that people are asked to participate in studies risks poor participation rates. This can subsequently affect the quality of information with which to inform policy-makers and protect the health of the public during the COVID-19 pandemic or other public health disasters/emergencies.