Abstract: Increasing Participant Collaboration in Social Work & Criminal Justice Research: Development of the Post-Interview Validity Check (Society for Social Work and Research 27th Annual Conference - Social Work Science and Complex Problems: Battling Inequities + Building Solutions)

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Increasing Participant Collaboration in Social Work & Criminal Justice Research: Development of the Post-Interview Validity Check

Saturday, January 14, 2023
Encanto B, 2nd Level (Sheraton Phoenix Downtown)
* noted as presenting author
Pajarita Charles, PhD, Assistant Professor, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, WI
Jessica Lipaz, Bachelors, Student, Columbia University, New York, NY
Background: Many people have historical mistrust of research participation, highlighting the importance of equalizing research processes with vulnerable populations. Survey researchers use strategies to pretest questionnaires to understand response processes and potential questionnaire problems. We could not identify similar strategies for qualitative researchers conducting in-depth interviews. To address this gap, increase collaboration with participants, and uplift their voices during the research process, we developed the Post-Interview Validity Check (PIVC). We tested the PIVC in a qualitative pilot as part of a larger study to develop an intervention for fathers in reentry from prison. Using the PIVC, we sought to identify how our interview questions should be modified, and how we could counteract researcher assumptions about how to implement the study, who to interview, and what to ask.

Method: We created the PIVC using categories of questions including: 1) Recruitment, 2) Informed Consent and Background Survey, 3) Visual Tools as an Interview Strategy, and 4) Interview Protocol. Following semi-structured interviews, we asked validity check questions that focused on respondents’ understanding of the study, experience with the procedures, views of questions asked in the interview, and recommendations for changes. Fathers in reentry (n=7) and mothers partnered with fathers in reentry (n=2) participated. Interviews were audio recorded and transcribed. Using field notes, summary comments, and transcripts, questions were collated and analyzed thematically on a question-by-question basis. A matrix display strategy allowed for arrangement of the data in a visual format where we compared, detected differences, and noted patterns and themes.

Results: We obtained results for each PIVC category. 1) Recruitment: Respondents’ trust in people and agencies who told them about the study was key in their decision to participate. One person recommended changing the image of the Black father on our flyer because of the negative stereotype it reinforced and how it might influence participation. 2) Informed Consent and Background Survey: Many respondents misunderstood the purpose of the pilot and thought that they were signing up to participate in an intervention, not an interview. One participant suggested changing a survey item that asked about fathers’ non-biological children, explaining the offensive nature of it and the more holistic view of fatherhood that many men had about childrearing. 3) Visual Tools: Respondents appreciated the ecomaps but suggested using templates and providing copies for people to take with them. 4) Interview Protocol: While participants liked “opening up” and “venting”, several suggested we expand the sample to include children and currently incarcerated fathers, and that we ask more specific questions about parenting skills, structural inequalities, and challenges with co-parenting.

Conclusion and Implications: Results from this study showcase the importance of field testing an interview protocol before fully implementing a qualitative study and learning about respondents’ experience with the research process. Use of a tool like the PIVC can improve researchers’ interview protocols and procedures, as well increase collaboration and bidirectional learning with participants. Implications include the need for future research to replicate and build on these findings to further assess the utility of the PIVC.