Sunday, January 15, 2012: 10:45 AM-12:15 PM
Penn Quarter B (Grand Hyatt Washington)
Cluster: Social Work Practice
Leslie Alexander, PhD, Graduate School of Social Work and Social Research - Bryn Mawr College
Over the past 15 to 20 years, scholarly interest in and empirical research on issues promoting and impeding the integrity of research findings has grown at a steady pace, primarily in public health, nursing, and medicine. This growth has been prompted in part by federal requirements for the inclusion of women and minorities in research, the imperative to reduce research participation inequalities, and to ensure that research findings are trustworthy as well as ethical. Social work researchers and trainees use some of the same marginalized target research populations in both community-placed and community based participatory research as these other professional groups, are increasingly involved in multidisciplinary research, and are subject to the same federal requirements around the ethical conduct of research and necessary training in the responsible conduct of research if they receive funding from NSF or NIH. However, to date, social workers have not been actively involved in research related to the ethical conduct of research. Even if research is not funded, these ethical concerns remain highly applicable for social work researchers. As more social work clinicians begin to work more closely with researchers in partnerships in community-based research projects, it is also imperative that social work clinicians become more familiar with ethical standards for research development and implementation that involves sensitive data, from marginalized clients (Clark, 2009). For a profession with an historic commitment to social justice and the wellbeing of marginalized groups in society, and research that may enhance such commitments, this symposium is timely. It addresses exploratory research in several areas related to the promotion of integrity in research findings, which are particularly relevant for social workers engaged in disciplinary or multidisciplinary research with marginalized populations. Each of these three investigations was federally funded: the first by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the second by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, and the third, by the National Institute of Nursing Research, and involve respondents who are 1) principal investigators or research coordinators in community-placed studies with marginalized research populations, 2) respondents who are marginalized because of rare and deadly physical health problems, and 3) are front line recruiters and data collectors in studies with marginalized populations. The first investigation used an anonymous web survey; the second and third studies used qualitative, in-depth interviews. In each case, findings from exploratory research are presented, providing different implications for better understanding complex issues involved in gathering high quality data, in an ethical manner, from marginalized research populations. These results are applicable for both social work researchers and clinicians who may partner with them in community-based research projects in the future. As Clark (2009) stated: “Because vulnerable populations are social workers' primary clientele, practitioners should join researchers and IRBs in working to protect clients by helping to ensure that their client populations have the option for research participation and that the studies in which they participate are conducted with scientific and ethical integrity” (p. 7).
* noted as presenting author
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