n Child Abuse Research in South Africa - The risks and benefits of participating in research on child abuse experiences : a preliminary exploration in a non-clinical South African sample

Volume 13, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 1562-1383



This study examined the risks and benefits of participating in child abuse research in a sample of 323 South African university students.

Respondents for the study were recruited through notices placed on a university intra-web. During Phase 1 of the research ( = 323), data were collected using a structured questionnaire which surveyed child abuse experiences, assessed respondents' traumatic status, and evaluated participants' reactions to research participation. Phase 2 of the research, involved a 2-week follow-up of 119 respondents from Phase 1, and was designed to assess the short-term effects of Phase 1 participation.
Research participation was well tolerated by respondents with the majority of respondents reporting: satisfaction with their participation (65%), personal benefit as a result of participating (56%), and positive risk-benefit ratios (67%). Findings regarding research-induced distress suggest that a sizable proportion of respondents (31%) experienced their participation as distressing, with 13% of respondents reporting persistent distress at 2-week follow-up. Research findings provided no evidence that respondents had been re-traumatized by their participation.
Study findings suggest that participation in child abuse research is experienced as distressing by a sizable proportion of respondents. As such, child abuse survivors would appear to constitute a particularly vulnerable group with respect to research-induced distress, with such survivors warranting special attention in the design and ethical approval of research protocols.

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