Developing distress protocols for research on sensitive topics

Arch Psychiatr Nurs. 2009 Oct;23(5):343-50. doi: 10.1016/j.apnu.2008.10.008. Epub 2009 Jan 15.


Two protocols that were developed to address risks related to emotional distress in an ongoing, qualitative, community-based study of adolescent dating violence are presented. The first protocol is for use in telephone screening to identify individuals at high risk of adverse emotional reactions. The second protocol guides interviewer's responses to emotional distress expressed by participants during in-depth research interviews. The study is briefly described, and the process used to develop the protocols is discussed. The process of developing the protocols caused the authors to reconsider some previously held assumptions about human subject protections in research on sensitive topics.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Behavioral Research / ethics*
  • Behavioral Research / methods
  • Clinical Nursing Research / ethics
  • Confidentiality
  • Courtship / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Interview, Psychological / methods*
  • Research Subjects / psychology*
  • Stress Disorders, Traumatic / diagnosis*
  • Stress Disorders, Traumatic / etiology
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Telephone
  • Violence / psychology*
  • Young Adult