Debriefing as a form of reflection and catharsis for researchers
Lucie Michelle Ramjan Senior lecturer at the School of Nursing and Midwifery, Western Sydney University, Penrith, NSW, Australia
Kath Peters Associate professor, Western Sydney University
Ariana Villarosa Research assistant, Western Sydney University
Amy Ruth Villarosa Research assistant, Western Sydney University
Claire Curmi Research assistant, Western Sydney University
Yenna Salamonson Associate professor, Western Sydney University
Background: The collection of sensitive data can arouse emotional reactions and researchers may have difficulty distancing themselves from personal stories. Debriefing can address the emotional effect of an experience on researchers.
Aim: To explore the debrief responses of three research assistants who were involved in the review of retrospective charts and medical notes in a study that examined the risk factors for readmission in young people with anorexia nervosa.
Discussion: Based on a review of the responses, the principal research team reflected on the value and effectiveness of a debrief tool for research assistants entering sensitive quantitative data. The paper highlights these reflections.
Conclusion: The use of an electronic debrief tool, while not without its challenges, provides an opportunity for individual reflection and a platform for emotional release for researchers engaged in sustained and intensive collection of sensitive data. This type of tool may serve as a guide for research teams and assist them in monitoring the well-being of those collecting sensitive data. We also advocate that a debriefing tool may contribute to closure for research assistants who become emotionally invested and affected by meticulous quantitative data entry.
Implications for practice: This paper provides recommendations for future use of an electronic debrief tool for researchers collecting sensitive data.
This article has been subject to double-blind review and has been checked for plagiarism using automated software
Received: 03 June 2015
Accepted: 07 September 2015
Published online: 04 August 2016
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