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A Critical Literature Synthesis of Safety Protocols for Qualitative Researchers Working with Oppressed Populations

Pelcher, Lindsay R. (2021) A Critical Literature Synthesis of Safety Protocols for Qualitative Researchers Working with Oppressed Populations. Master's Thesis, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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Background: When conducting research with populations with increased mental health vulnerability as a result of increased exposure to trauma, oppression, and other systemic issues, it is critical to be aware that sensitive information related to mental health and safety may be shared by participants. Since participants may experience distress as result of describing traumatic experiences, particularly during qualitative research, safety protocols should be in place to ensure the physical, emotional, and psychological well-being of the participants.
Purpose: This review aims to identify existing safety protocols for qualitative researchers and the extent to which qualitative researchers are trained to monitor and promote participant safety when conducting research with oppressed populations.
Methods: A literature review was conducted within PubMed and PsychInfo to identify relevant papers utilizing the PICO principle and Boolean search terminology. The search only included clinical trials if they contained a qualitative component.
Results: Fifteen articles meeting the inclusion criteria were identified and selected from the literature search. The literature revealed a dearth of published safety protocols or best practice guidelines to protect oppressed participants from potential harm during the research process.
Conclusions: Given the increasing need of research with oppressed populations to understand their health needs, these results have great public health significance, revealing a gap in published protocols and guidelines. There is a need for more research on the development and implementation of safety protocols during the conduct of qualitative research with oppressed populations. These safety protocols are essential to protect oppressed individuals while ensuring their voices are heard in research in a meaningful way.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Pelcher, Lindsay R.lip37@pitt.edulip370000-0001-9094-2445
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairHawk,
Committee MemberCoulter, Robert
Committee MemberChugani,
Date: 10 May 2021
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 12 April 2021
Approval Date: 10 May 2021
Submission Date: 19 April 2021
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 60
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: School of Public Health > Behavioral and Community Health Sciences
Degree: MPH - Master of Public Health
Thesis Type: Master's Thesis
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: qualitative research, vulnerable, oppressed, sensitive, protocols, risk management.
Date Deposited: 10 May 2021 22:55
Last Modified: 10 May 2021 22:55

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