Ethical issues in the qualitative researcher--participant relationship

Nurs Ethics. 2008 Mar;15(2):199-207. doi: 10.1177/0969733007086018.


Qualitative research poses ethical issues and challenges unique to the study of human beings. In developing the interpersonal relationship that is critical to qualitative research, investigator and participant engage in a dialogic process that often evokes stories and memories that are remembered and reconstituted in ways that otherwise would not occur. Ethical issues are raised when this relationship not only provides qualitative research data, but also leads to some degree of therapeutic interaction for the participant. The purpose of this article is to examine some of the controversies inherent in the researcher's dilemma when this occurs, set within the context of a nursing caring theory (Swanson), and the International Council of Nurses Code of ethics for nurses, which provides guidance on global nursing practice.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Codes of Ethics
  • Conflict, Psychological
  • Empathy
  • Ethical Theory
  • Helping Behavior
  • Humans
  • Informed Consent / ethics
  • Informed Consent / psychology
  • International Council of Nurses
  • Nurse's Role / psychology
  • Nurse-Patient Relations / ethics
  • Nursing Methodology Research / ethics*
  • Nursing Methodology Research / organization & administration
  • Nursing Theory
  • Organizational Objectives
  • Patient Advocacy / ethics
  • Patient Advocacy / psychology
  • Philosophy, Nursing
  • Qualitative Research*
  • Research Design
  • Research Personnel / ethics*
  • Research Personnel / organization & administration
  • Research Personnel / psychology
  • Research Subjects / psychology
  • Researcher-Subject Relations / ethics*
  • Researcher-Subject Relations / psychology
  • Social Support
  • Vulnerable Populations / psychology