Does research into sensitive areas do harm? Experiences of research participation after a child's diagnosis with Ewing's sarcoma

Med J Aust. 2002 Nov 4;177(9):507-10. doi: 10.5694/j.1326-5377.2002.tb04921.x.


Objective: To investigate family members' experiences of involvement in a previous study (conducted August 1995 to June 1997) following their child's diagnosis with Ewing's sarcoma.

Design: Retrospective survey, conducted between 1 November and 30 November 1997, using a postal questionnaire.

Participants: Eighty-one of 97 families who had previously completed an in-depth interview as part of a national case-control study of Ewing's sarcoma.

Main outcome measures: Participants' views on how participation in the previous study had affected them and what motivated them to participate.

Results: Most study participants indicated that taking part in the previous study had been a positive experience. Most (n = 79 [97.5%]) believed their involvement would benefit others and were glad to have participated, despite expecting and finding some parts of the interview to be painful. Parents whose child was still alive at the time of the interview recalled participation as more painful than those whose child had died before the interview. Parents who had completed the interview less than a year before our study recalled it as being more painful than those who had completed it more than a year before.

Conclusions: That people suffering bereavement are generally eager to participate in research and may indeed find it a positive experience is useful information for members of ethics review boards and other "gatekeepers", who frequently need to determine whether studies into sensitive areas should be approved. Such information may also help members of the community to make an informed decision regarding participation in such research.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Bereavement
  • Bone Neoplasms / psychology
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Ethics, Research*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Motivation
  • Parents / psychology*
  • Research Subjects / psychology*
  • Sarcoma, Ewing / psychology
  • Stress, Psychological