What's the risk in asking? Participant reaction to trauma history questions compared with reaction to other personal questions

Ethics and Behavior 16 (4):347 – 362 (2006)
Does asking about trauma history create participant distress? If so, how does it compare with reactions to other personal questions? Do participants consider trauma questions important compared to other personal questions? Using 2 undergraduate samples (Ns = 240 and 277), the authors compared participants' reactions to trauma questions with their reactions to other possibly invasive questions through a self-report survey. Trauma questions caused relatively minimal distress and were perceived as having greater importance and greater cost-benefit ratings compared to other kinds of psychological research in an undergraduate human subjects pool population. These findings suggest that at least some kinds of trauma research appear to pose minimal risk when compared to other minimal risk research topics, and that participants recognize the importance of research about trauma.
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