Balancing Methodological Rigor and the Needs of Research Participants: A Debate on Alternative Approaches to Sensitive Research

Simon CHAN*, Eli Teram, Ian Shaw

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Despite growing consideration of the needs of research participants in studies related to sensitive issues, discussions of alternative ways to design sensitive research are scarce. Structured as an exchange between two researchers who used different approaches in their studies with childhood sexual abuse survivors, in this article, we seek to advance understanding of methodological and ethical issues in designing sensitive research. The first perspective, which is termed protective, promotes the gradual progression of participants from a treatment phase into a research phase, with the ongoing presence of a researcher and a social worker in both phases. In the second perspective, which is termed minimalist, we argue for clear boundaries between research and treatment processes, limiting the responsibility of researchers to ensuring that professional support is available to participants who experience emotional difficulties. Following rebuttals, lessons are drawn for ethical balancing between methodological rigor and the needs of participants.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)260-270
Number of pages11
JournalQualitative Health Research
Volume27
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2017

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

User-Defined Keywords

  • adult survivors
  • Canada
  • childhood sexual abuse
  • cultures
  • gender
  • Hong Kong
  • interviews
  • qualitative
  • research ethics
  • sensitive research

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