Issues for consideration by researchers conducting sensitive research with women who have endured domestic violence during pregnancy
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Background. This paper discusses the issues involved in conducting doctoral research with 11 women who had suffered domestic violence during their pregnancy. In 2005, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported the incidence of physically abused pregnant women to be greater than 5%. More recent research in 2010 reports prevalence rates of between 3.9% and 8.3%. The challenge faced by midwifery researchers undertaking sensitive research merits further consideration to ensure that unnecessary harm is not caused by participants or the researcher. For this particular research study the WHO's ethical and safety recommendations for domestic violence research were used as a framework to consider pertinent issues. One of the most difficult challenges when conducting interviews for this type of research, or indeed any other research involving sensitive interviews, is gaining access to the participants. Gaining access to this vulnerable group of women was a challenge and required sensitivity and thorough consideration at each stage of the recruitment process. Due to the sensitivity of the topic, it was also important the environment were the interviews were conducted felt private and safe for all the participants. How and where the interviews were to be conducted had initiated a lot of thought and consideration. Particular consideration was given to the venue and the impact of the environment on the privacy and safety of the women. Conducting such interviews has the capability to emotionally re-traumatise survivors, especially when women are being asked to recall physical, emotional and sexual abuse. Therefore in accordance with the ethical principles from the WHO, it was important that the researcher demonstrated skills to encourage a reciprocal relationship, thus challenging the traditional researcher and participant hierarchy and dynamic.
Evidence Based Midwifery
© 2013 Royal College of Midwives. The attached file is reproduced here in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher. Please refer to the journal's website for access to the definitive, published version.