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“It Helped a Lot to Go Over it”: Intimate Partner Violence Research Risks and Benefits from Participating in an 18-month Longitudinal Study

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In conducting research with a vulnerable population, researchers must assure that benefits of research outweigh costs. The present study qualitatively examined intimate partner violence (IPV) survivors’ experiences of participating in an 18-month, longitudinal study of IPV screening and intervention within a primary healthcare setting. A structured interview was administered to 24 participants who completed their 18-month study interview and assessment. The structured interview queried changes made, safety risks during study participation, and advice for researchers. Most participants reported making positive changes in their lives during study participation, often partially attributing the changes to study participation. In particular, participants spoke to the importance of talking about the abuse with trusted others, gaining increased awareness and information about IPV and resources, and recognizing that they were capable of change. Feedback about the study experience was largely neutral or positive, with only one hypothetical safety worry raised. We conclude that the potential benefits to study participation outweigh potential costs. These findings suggest that research with IPV survivors can be designed to address IRB concerns about risks to participants and cost-benefit analyses of research participation.

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This project was supported by grants from the Healthier Wisconsin Partnership Program Foundation #2004II-0088, B. Ambuel, P. I., and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention R49/CE0011754, L. K. Hamberger, P. I. This paper is partially the result of work supported with resources and the use of facilities at the Clement J. Zablocki VAMC, Milwaukee, WI.

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Correspondence to L. Kevin Hamberger.

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Dr. Ambuel made substantive contributions to the conceptualization, design and early writing of the manuscript, but passed away prior to completion of the project.

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Hamberger, L.K., Larsen, S. & Ambuel, B. “It Helped a Lot to Go Over it”: Intimate Partner Violence Research Risks and Benefits from Participating in an 18-month Longitudinal Study. J Fam Viol 35, 43–52 (2020).

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