Conducting ethical research with vulnerable populations

At The Loss Foundation we are committed to learning more about peoples’ experiences of bereavement to better inform the support services that we provide. We are dedicated to providing a service that is informed by your experiences and needs. In order to achieve this goal we carry out a number of research projects ourselves and partake in research with affiliated organisations.

Many of our volunteers are psychologists who contribute to or work in academic research. Two of our Clinical Psychologists who have been with us since day one, Kirsten Smith and Belinda Graham, have recently published an article on conducting ethical internet-based research when working with vulnerable populations, with a particular focus on carrying out research with people who are bereaved.

With research more frequently being conducted using online questionnaires, it is important to recognise how people experience participation in such studies, especially if those taking part are particularly vulnerable.

Concerns had previously been raised by researchers which indicated that asking people who are bereaved questions about their experiences could heighten their distress and introduce risks that outweigh benefits of taking part in research. The present article indicates that this is not entirely true. Although the recent study indicated that there can be temporary feelings of distress from taking part, people found it acceptable to be asked, and also reported a range of positive reactions.

The article, which is freely accessible, offers some tips for researchers to ensure that people taking part are as well looked after as possible.

We are very proud of our team for contributing to an important study, and welcome more research in the area.

You can read the full article by clicking here.

Happy reading,
The Loss Foundation


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