Publication date: Aug 01, 2023
The SARS-Cov-2 virus (COVID-19) has not only threatened the health of the world’s population but also presented challenges for conducting human subject research studies. Although many institutions have now established guidelines for conducting research during the COVID-19 pandemic, reports of the practical experiences of researchers are limited. This report presents the challenges nurse researchers encountered when conducting a randomized controlled trial to develop an arthritis self-management application during the COVID-19 pandemic in Taiwan and how researchers responded to the challenges. Qualitative data from five nurse researchers were collected from August 2020 to July 2022 at a rheumatology clinic in northern Taiwan. This collaborative autoethnographic report was drawn from data comprised of detailed field notes and weekly discussions regarding research challenges we were confronting. Data were analyzed to determine successful strategies employed to overcome the challenges and allow for completion of the study. Minimizing the risk of exposure to the virus for researchers and participants resulted in four major challenges to conducting our research: patient screening and recruitment, delivery of the intervention, obtaining follow-up data, and unanticipated budget increases. Challenges reduced sample size, altered intervention delivery, increased time and money beyond what was originally budgeted, and delayed completion of the study. Adapting to a new healthcare environment required flexibility for recruitment, alternate means of providing intervention instructions, and an awareness of disparities in participants’ internet proficiency. Our experiences can serve as an example for other institutions and researchers faced with similar challenges.