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      The Burden of Research on Trauma for Respondents: A Prospective and Comparative Study on Respondents Evaluations and Predictors

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          The possible burden of participating in trauma research is an important topic for Ethical Committees (EC's), Review Boards (RB's) and researchers. However, to what extent research on trauma is more burdensome than non-trauma research is unknown. Little is known about which factors explain respondents evaluations on the burden: to what extent are they trauma-related or dependent on other factors such as personality and how respondents evaluate research in general? Data of a large probability based multi-wave internet panel, with surveys on politics and values, personality and health in 2009 and 2011, and a survey on trauma in 2012 provided the unique opportunity to address these questions. Results among respondents confronted with these events in the past 2 years (N = 950) showed that questions on trauma were significantly and systematically evaluated as less pleasant (enjoyed less), more difficult, but also stimulated respondents to think about things more than almost all previous non-trauma surveys. Yet, the computed effect sizes indicated that the differences were (very) small and often meaningless. No differences were found between users and non-users of mental services, in contrast to posttraumatic stress symptoms. Evaluations of the burden of previous surveys in 2011 on politics and values, personality and health most strongly, systematically and independently predicted the burden of questions on trauma, and not posttraumatic stress symptoms, event-related coping self-efficacy and personality factors. For instance, multiple linear regression analyses showed that 30% of the variance of how (un)pleasant questions on trauma and life-events were evaluated, was explained by how (un)pleasant the 3 surveys in 2011 were evaluated, in contrast to posttraumatic stress symptoms (not significant) and coping self-efficacy (5%). Findings question why EC's, RB's and researchers should be more critical of the possible burden of trauma research than of the possible burden of other non-trauma research.

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          Most cited references 18

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          Construct validation of the Dutch version of the impact of event scale.

          The Impact of Event Scale (ES; M. J. Horowitz, N. Wilner, & W. Alvarez, 1979) is a worldwide-used self-report measure to assess the frequency of intrusive and avoidant phenomena after a variety of traumatic experiences. The purpose of this article is to assess the psychometric value of the Dutch version of the IES (D. Brom & R. J. Kleber, 1985) in several samples of individuals who had experienced various traumatic stressors. The reliability and structure of the IES were evaluated in 3 different samples (total N = 1.588). The reliability of the Dutch version of the IES was adequate across the various stressors. The construct validity was assessed by using confirmatory factor analyses. Outcomes revealed a robust structure over the various samples, generally supporting the composition of the original IES. ((c) 2004 APA, all rights reserved)
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            Participation in trauma research: is there evidence of harm?

            Few studies have examined the impact of trauma research participation upon trauma survivors. Empirical data regarding reactions to research participation would be very useful to address the question of whether it is harmful for trauma survivors to participate in trauma studies. We examined participant reactions to different trauma assessment procedures in domestic violence (N = 260), rape (N = 108), and physical assault (N = 62) samples. Results indicated that participation was very well tolerated by the vast majority of the trauma survivors. Participants generally found that the assessment experience was not distressing and was, in fact, viewed as an interesting and valuable experience. The findings suggest that trauma survivors are not too fragile to participate in trauma research even in the acute aftermath of a traumatic experience.
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              The risks and benefits of participating in trauma-focused research studies.

              Concern about minimizing harm and maximizing benefit has been particularly acute with regard to the scientific study of individuals exposed to potentially traumatic events such as terrorist attack or disaster. This review outlines conceptual and practical issues and summarizes available evidence regarding potential risks and benefits of participation in trauma-related research. Current, limited evidence suggests that most individuals make favorable cost-benefit appraisals regarding their participation. Although a subset of participants report strong negative emotions or unanticipated distress, the majority of these do not regret or negatively evaluate the overall experience. Continuing efforts are needed to identify individuals at risk for unfavorable reactions to research participation. A systematic empirical approach to evaluating participant experience in all human research is recommended.

                Author and article information

                Role: Editor
                PLoS One
                PLoS ONE
                PLoS ONE
                Public Library of Science (San Francisco, USA )
                21 October 2013
                : 8
                : 10
                [1 ]INTERVICT, Tilburg University, Tilburg, The Netherlands
                [2 ]CentERdata, Tilburg University, Tilburg, The Netherlands
                Maastricht University Medical Centre, The Netherlands
                Author notes

                Competing Interests: The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.

                Conceived and designed the experiments: PV. Analyzed the data: PV MB. Wrote the paper: PV MB AS.


                This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

                Page count
                Pages: 11
                This study is part of a large research project on coping self-efficacy, granted by the Victim Support Fund (Fonds Slachtofferhulp), The Netherlands. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.
                Research Article



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