Society for Social Work and Research

Sixteenth Annual Conference Research That Makes A Difference: Advancing Practice and Shaping Public Policy
11-15 January 2012 I Grand Hyatt Washington I Washington, DC

77 Crafting Successful IRB Applications When Conducting Research with Battered Women: Challenges and Strategies

Friday, January 13, 2012: 2:30 PM-4:15 PM
Constitution E (Grand Hyatt Washington)
Cluster: Gender and Ethnicity
Elithet Silva-Martínez, PhD, Rutgers University, Judy L. Postmus, PhD, Rutgers University and Amanda Mathiesen, MSW, LCSW, Rutgers University
Research on intimate partner violence (IPV) has had an important presence in the social work research arena. However, researchers often face obstacles to implementing quantitative and qualitative methods with IPV survivors, especially when it comes to learning about their experiences at the different stages of the cycle of abuse, while living with their batterers, their experiences in the community, and their experiences as foreign-language speakers and immigrants. On occasions, such obstacles are encountered when seeking approval from Institutional Review Boards (IRB). Discussion is needed to develop strategies on how to cope with the expectations and challenges encountered when crafting a proposal for the IRB as well as how to stay true to the integrity and essence of the research project itself. The presenters will provide examples of successful navigation efforts through the IRB process to illustrate the barriers and strategies used to overcome such barriers. These presentations will focus the discussion on how to maintain consonance between attending to institutional requirements as well as the ethics of working with battered women using feminist and womanist theoretical approaches. The main objectives of this workshop are the following: 1) To articulate the challenges of conducting research with battered women in general, paying special attention to issues on recruitment, measurement and data collection procedures, safety for both participants and researchers, anonymous identification and confidentiality, translation of consent forms and other materials, and status as battered undocumented immigrants. 2) To discuss how these challenges might become an obstacle when submitting for IRB approval. Controversies regarding differing conceptions of risk, hesitance to approve because of safety issues, opposition to oral informed consent, opposition to touch on “sensitive” topics, questioning of when, where and how the data is collected and stored, and delays in the research process will be covered. 3) To identify specific strategies in addressing these obstacles and challenges including educating IRB and staff members regarding the particularities of conducting ethical research and protecting survivors of IPV, evidencing proficiency in the topic, explaining the importance of using particular methodological procedure, articulating why forcing a particular strategy might constrain the research, and developing a strong support system with academic colleagues and community partners. 4) To formulate alternatives to develop spaces for social work researchers, as part of the academic community, to get involved in insightful conversations on the review process and existing protocols and how to strengthen it.

The workshop will include a combination of presentation and group discussion using a co-learning methodology in hopes of uncovering ways to ethically and rigorously promote research relevant to social work scientists studying intimate partner violence.

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