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SENSITIVE INTERVIEWS
By Jean Thompson
Considerations and Strategies
for Conducting
University of Guelph - EDRD 6000 - Qual...
WHAT'S THERE TO WORRY ABOUT?
KeepingYourResearchProductive
Being concerned about the integrity of your data is legitimate ...
TIPSSensitive Interviews
S A F E & P R O D U C T I V E R E S E A R C H
Be Your Target Group Avoid Distress Watch Out for K...
What to Consider
When Preparing
for Research
Researchers often wear many hats, especially
those in helping professions suc...
Sensitive Interviews
S A F E & P R O D U C T I V E R E S E A R C H
Considering Affect Normalizing Questions Too Many Quest...
"Based on what you have told
me thus far, I have some
additional questions that might
be difficult to discuss. If you
woul...
Sensitive Interviews
S A F E & P R O D U C T I V E R E S E A R C H
Echo Before Your Share Learn the Language Avoid Hierarc...
Are You Prepared?
Part of being prepared
means you're able to sit
comfortably through tears,
pauses, and emotions
(Olson, ...
Next Steps
Sensitive Interviews
Be respectful of your power, and the needs of those you are interviewing.
Prepare your stu...
References
Berg, B. L. (2007). Qualitative research methods for the social sciences.
Boston, MA: Pearson.
Daley, K (2012),...
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Considerations and Strategies for Conducting Sensitive Research Interviews

Tips, tricks, and skills needed to balance the safety of research participants with productive research.

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Considerations and Strategies for Conducting Sensitive Research Interviews

  1. 1. SENSITIVE INTERVIEWS By Jean Thompson Considerations and Strategies for Conducting University of Guelph - EDRD 6000 - Qualitative Analysis
  2. 2. WHAT'S THERE TO WORRY ABOUT? KeepingYourResearchProductive Being concerned about the integrity of your data is legitimate if it has been obtained as a result of good rapport (Daley, 2012). This said, ensuring accurate data is collected requires building trust with your participants (Berg, 2007). Striking this balance takes practice and experience. To start out, consider these tips, tricks, and skills. Keeping Your Participants Safe When interviews are about sensitive materials, a somewhat false-bond may be created as the participant shares more than they intended because they think the person they're talking to is like them. Being research, the relationship is likely temporary and the participant may be confused or disappointed when the relationship ends abruptly after the session (Daley, 2012). Practice is needed to ensure that the relationship is honest, and avoids putting the participant in distress.
  3. 3. TIPSSensitive Interviews S A F E & P R O D U C T I V E R E S E A R C H Be Your Target Group Avoid Distress Watch Out for Knowing In a study of depression, men didn't sign-up until a male researcher began asking, then they signed-up in droves! (Olson, 2011) Researchers who shared demographic criteria to possible participants recruited more women to a study about breasts (Olson,2011) . Participants may avoid causing themselves distress by avoiding giving distressing answers. Respect that! Simply listen instead of probing with "How did that make you feel?" (Olson, 2011) A participant who shares characteristics with the researcher might be prone to saying "You know what I mean." Avoid saying "I know" to build rapport. The researcher runs the risk of projecting their own bias on to the work, and could mislead the participant (Duncombe & Jessop, 2012).
  4. 4. What to Consider When Preparing for Research Researchers often wear many hats, especially those in helping professions such as nursing, social work, and medicine. Make sure you establish a plan with your Research Ethics Board for how to address situations where a research interview transitions into therapy. This may necessitate the removal of a participant from the study (Olson, 2011). Establish the line before you're walking it. Do you need to ensure therapeutic support is available or on-call during the interview? Your consent form should highlight the sensitivity of the interview (Olson, 2011). REMEMBER: Consent is on-going. Participants can withdraw at all times (Olson, 2011).
  5. 5. Sensitive Interviews S A F E & P R O D U C T I V E R E S E A R C H Considering Affect Normalizing Questions Too Many Questions Your choice of words can have a serious impact on results. "Why?" often elicits a negative response. "How come?" can elicit a positive response (Berg, 2007). Create questions that allow the participant to infer that their behaviour is common. "Do you masturbate?" could cause someone to answer defensively. "How many times a week would you say you masturbate?" suggests others masturbate too (Berg, 2007). Too many questions is not a bad thing. Plan for questions that don't add to your research. These can be used to redirect the conversation after something sensitive is shared that brings up a lot of emotions (Berg, 2007). TRICKS
  6. 6. "Based on what you have told me thus far, I have some additional questions that might be difficult to discuss. If you would rather not talk about them, please let me know," (Olson, 2011). "Thanks for giving me the heads up so I have time to prepare and for reminding me I do have control over this experience," (Olson, 2011). Best Practice Conversation Critical Conversation "I have a plan to hurt myself or others," (Olson, 2011) "As a researcher in Canada, I am bound by law to report both of those concerns," (Olson, 2011).
  7. 7. Sensitive Interviews S A F E & P R O D U C T I V E R E S E A R C H Echo Before Your Share Learn the Language Avoid Hierarchy Building a relationship is critical, but new interviewers can come off as inattentive if they talk about themselves too much! Echo what you're hearing, and when you're more skilled, find common ground. Like when domestic violence researchers alluded to their own experience of violence (Berg, 2007). Brush up on the words and their meaning used in the community in which you work (Berg, 2007). Researchers conversed more freely with members of the MSM (Men who have Sex with Men) community when they were fluent in the specific phrasing (Berg, 2007). Eliciting responses from participants by sharing doesn't just add to your researched content. Providing participants information about yourself creates less hierarchy and is a more social just approach to research (Olson, 2011). Balance this with the knowing that ultimately, the researcher analyzes the data (Duncombe & Jessop, 2012). SKILLS
  8. 8. Are You Prepared? Part of being prepared means you're able to sit comfortably through tears, pauses, and emotions (Olson, 2011).
  9. 9. Next Steps Sensitive Interviews Be respectful of your power, and the needs of those you are interviewing. Prepare your study thoroughly, and don't forget to prepare yourself! Tips, Tricks, and your Skills influence your participants.
  10. 10. References Berg, B. L. (2007). Qualitative research methods for the social sciences. Boston, MA: Pearson. Daley, K (2012), Gathering sensitive stories: Using care theory to guide ethical decision-making in research interviews with young people, Youth Studies Australia , (31) 3, 27-34. Duncombe, J., & Jessop, J. (2012). Ethics in qualitative research (T. Miller, Ed.). London: Sage Publications. Olson, K. (2011). Essentials of qualitative interviewing. Walnut Creek, CA: Left Coast Press.

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Tips, tricks, and skills needed to balance the safety of research participants with productive research.

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