Ethics in leaving care research

In the October conference of EUSARF in Porto, a symposium was held concerning ethical and practical challenges in researching care leavers. The symposium included five presentations by members of CoRiT (Community of Researchers in Transition). (CoRiT is a subgroup of INTRAC, comprising postgraduate students and recent graduates, working in the area of leaving care.)

The symposium included different experiences and international perspectives on dealing with ethics in research on care leavers. Furthermore, it pointed to challenges which arise when we strive to understand needs and to define adequate support for this vulnerable group through research. Insights concerning the following question discussed:

  • What are the main ethical challenges in qualitative research with care leavers?
  • Which challenges arise during different stages of the studies?
  • How do new methodologies – such as peer research – help with some challenges but create others?
  • How are cultural differences addressed in research methods?
  • How can we improve our methods in order to yield more effective findings?

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Members of CoRiT chilling after a long day at the conference

Samuel Keller (Switzerland) discussed challenges of language use in research with care leavers. He also referred to non-verbal methods as one option to deal with miscommunication, misunderstanding and mistrust in studies.

Tehila Refaeli (Israel) focuses on ethical issues and offered some practical solutions related to different stages of research with care leavers, including recruitment of interviewees, enabling free will, provoking traumatic memories without providing therapy, etc.

Inger Oterholm (Norway) referred to the ethical issue of presenting findings about care leavers which highlight their challenging situations and can stigmatize them. She offered ways to avoid this unwanted result in future studies.

Benjamin Strahl (Germany) and John Paul Horn (USA) referred to the issue of including care leavers to participate as researchers and in writing publications, the advantages and the challenges, including differences in cultural and research approaches concerning peer studies.

Veronika Paulsen (Norway) and Élodie Marion (Canada) presented their review and analysis of 64 studies concerning care leavers. They provide recommendations for using adequate research planning and methods in order to provide useful findings for practice and policy.

You can read more about this issue here:

Keller, S., Strahl, B., Refaeli, T., & Zhao, C. T. (2016). Researching Care Leavers in an Ethical Manner in Switzerland, Germany, Israel and China. In P. Mendes & P. Snow (Eds.), Young People Transitioning from Out-of-Home Care: International research, policy and practice (pp. 241-261). Palgrave Macmillan, London.‏

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Members of CoRiT chilling some more!

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