Session: Methodological, Logistical and Ethical Issues in Research Related to People with Disabilities (Society for Social Work and Research 15th Annual Conference: Emerging Horizons for Social Work Research)

23 Methodological, Logistical and Ethical Issues in Research Related to People with Disabilities

Thursday, January 13, 2011: 3:30 PM-5:15 PM
Grand Salon G (Tampa Marriott Waterside Hotel & Marina)
Cluster: Health and Disability
Speakers/Presenters:  Elizabeth Lightfoot, PhD, Associate Professor, University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, St. Paul, MN, John C. Bricout, PhD, Associate Professor, University of Central Florida, Orlando, FL, Elizabeth P. Cramer, PhD, Professor, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, VA, Susan L. Parish, PhD, MSW, Nancy Lurie Marks Professor of Disability Policy and Director, Lurie Institute for Disability Policy, Brandeis University, Waltham, MA, Sara-Beth Plummer, PhD, Project Coordinator and Instructor, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ, Michelle Putnam, PhD, Associate Professor, Simmons College, Boston, MA and Elspeth M. Slayter, PhD, Assistant Professor, Salem State University, Salem, MA
While social workers have worked with people with disabilities in a variety of settings for years, historically there have been few social work researchers investigating disability-related research topics. However, in the past ten years there has been a growing emphasis on rigorous social work research on disability-related topics, often from a social model lens of disability, using both qualitative and quantitative approaches. We have seen a growing number of disability-related presentations at SSWR each year since its inception, and the inauguration of the SSWR Special Interest Group on Disability just two years ago. This growth in interest in disability-related research by social work researchers has produced new knowledge related to social services, social supports, social policies, social action, community living and community inclusion of people with disabilities. As disability-related research has grown in sophistication while tackling increasingly complex systems, new populations and life-altering technology it has had to confront key issues of emerging scientific frontiers around knowledge development and knowledge translation in the guise of methodological, logistical and ethical decision making. The purpose of this roundtable discussion is to discuss emergent methodological, logistical and ethical issues in social work research related to people with disabilities. The roundtable will be organized around each of these three areas, and each panel participant will briefly provide examples from his or her own research experiences to help begin a broader discussion among the attendees of each of these areas. Attendees will also be encouraged to introduce their own examples or bring questions and concerns in each of these three areas to further discussion in a direction that is relevant to the particular interests of the attendees. Our goal is to create a dialogue with other disability researchers and potential disability researchers on how to address these issues related to disability research. First, the roundtable will focus on methodological issues. Panel participants will discuss key disability-related methodological issues, providing examples from their own research, including defining disability in large datasets, the call for a participatory research approach when investigating issues related to people with disabilities, and measurement issues. Next, the roundtable panelists will discuss some logistical issues that arise when doing disability-related research, including recruiting, modifying data collection instruments, using scales, providing accommodations, conducting interviews and focus groups, and obtaining research funding. Finally, the roundtable panelists will provide examples of ethical issues that can arise in disability research, such as obtaining consent, using proxy content, ensuring privacy and confidentiality, protecting participants from being over-researched, and working with IRBs. The roundtable will be aimed both at researchers with extensive experience in disability issues, as well as new investigators who are beginning their research careers and researchers who are interested in moving into the area of disability research. Members of the SSWR Disability Special Interest Group will also be present to help further the discussion and to build support for disability-related social work research through networking and collaboration.
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