The Utility of the RRPQ in Assessing the Costs and Benefits of Participating in Trauma Research within the South African Context
Across all disciplines, research needs to follow certain ethical guidelines in order to protect participants from harm. These principles include autonomy, beneficence and non-maleficence. Previously within trauma research, these principles have been adhered to by means of subjective assessments due to the absence of empirical data. This created difficulties in accurately identifying the possible costs and benefits of research participation in trauma studies. The Reactions to Research Participation Questionnaire (RRPQ) by Newman, Sinclair and Kaloupek (2001) is a recently developed empirically based questionnaire which requires participants to self-report their perceived costs and benefits of participating in trauma research. This study aims to use this measure for the first time within the South African context, in order to determine whether the factor structure of this questionnaire found in other studies, is applicable to the South African context. Data were collected in two phases. Phase 1 involved using a structured questionnaire which surveyed child abuse experiences and the RRPQ which evaluated participants' reaction to research participation. Phase 2 occurred as part of a two week follow up to assess short-term effects of Phase 1 participation. Results indicated that research participation was well tolerated with the majority of respondents reporting satisfaction with their participation (65%) and personal benefit as a result of participating (56%), as well as positive risk-benefit ratios (67%). A sizeable proportion of respondents (31%) found participation distressing; with 13% of respondents reporting distress at a two week follow up. Research findings provided no evidence that participation was experienced as re-traumatising. This study therefore has important implications for future research within the field of trauma, and for the possibility of redefining the ethical paradigm which has thus far dominated trauma related research.