I had a strange and inspirational experience a while back when attending as an applicant at a Local Research Ethics Committee (LREC) meeting - and that's a sentence you don't hear that often!
My colleague and I were asked by the Chair of the committee, to specify, in view of the fact our research was centered upon a vulnerable group (the committee's definition, not ours, or indeed the research participants themselves), which "distress policy" we were planning to use. Now,I am not a novice when it comes to LRECs but I have to say that I have NEVER been asked that question before. Swift as you like, I came back with "which distress protocol do you recommend?' and it became painfully clear that the committee did not really know of any. The Chair dismissed my question with a wave of the hand and an airy "Oh, there are lots out there", however on return to the office a Google search quickly indicated that by 'lots' the committee obviously meant 'none'.
So, in the interests of harmony, and getting our ethics approval, my colleague and I were inspired to set about writing our own, evidence based distress protocol. The result has a tripartite focus and covers;
- Participant distress
- Researcher distress
- Transcriber distress
We felt the last one was particularly important since, as researchers, we do not often think about the people who are transcribing our interviews and how they may be affected by the things they hear. So, if you are involved in health & social care research or indeed any kind of research where the management of distress might be an issue please feel free to use our distress protocol. You can find it here