Managing Ethical Problems in Qualitative Research Involving Vulnerable Populations, Using a Pilot Study

  • Evalina van Wijk Western Cape College of Nursing Cape Town, South Africa
  • Tracie Harrison School of Nursing The University of Texas at Austin Austin, Texas, United States

Abstract

The purpose of the researcher’s study was to examine the meaning that intimate partners of female rape victims attached to their lived experiences after the rape. The conduct of qualitative research concerning non-offending partners of female rape victims, however, often involves multifaceted ethical and practical challenges, which can be managed through the use of pilot studies. The pilot study described in this report had three objectives. The first was to pretest and refine the proposed method for locating, accessing, and recruiting intimate partners of female rape victims, within the first two weeks after the rape, for participation in a six-month longitudinal study. The second objective was to identify and prevent all possible risk factors in the proposed recruitment and data collection methods that could harm the participants’ safety during the main study. The third objective was to determine the feasibility of the main study, in terms of the limited financial and human resources available. The pilot phase was valuable in identifying ethical and methodological problems during the recruitment of participants and collection of data. It allowed for methodological adjustments prior to the main study and confirmed the feasibility of the overall research design. A pilot, pretesting phase is therefore seen as an essential component of a qualitative study involving a vulnerable population.

Author Biographies

Evalina van Wijk, Western Cape College of Nursing Cape Town, South Africa
PhD in Nursing, senior lecturer, Department of Psychiatric Nursing Responsible for the advanced Psychiatric Nursing module
Tracie Harrison, School of Nursing The University of Texas at Austin Austin, Texas, United States
Associate professor of Adult Health Nursing. Health and Aging Policy Fellow through the Atlantic Philanthropies. Working with The Administration on Aging to enhance policies that affect older Americans with disabilities.
Published
2013-10-31
Section
Articles