Keeping the personal costs down: minimising distress when researching sensitive issues

Milne, M. J and Lloyd, C. E. (2008). Keeping the personal costs down: minimising distress when researching sensitive issues. In: Earle, Sarah; Komaromy, Carol and Bartholomew, Caroline eds. Death and Dying: A Reader. Published in association with The Open University. UK: Sage.

URL: http://www.sagepub.co.uk/booksProdTOC.nav?prodId=B...

Abstract

Whenever we ask people to participate in our research, we ask them, at the most basic level, to give up their time. There may be other costs as well however, and for our participants to give truly informed consent we need to know what these costs are likely to be. The total of these costs is the respondent burden. All research participation could be argued to involve some cost, if only in terms of time and inconvenience. However the potential costs of participating in research into sensitive topics may go well beyond this (Lee, 1993).
This article considers the nature of the respondent burden in research about sensitive issues. We discuss the nature of ‘sensitive issues’, reviewing some of the literature regarding whether participation in research about death and dying in particular is burdensome, and examine some ways that have been suggested of reducing any distress caused by such research.

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