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Participating in Research: Experiences of People Presenting to the Emergency Department With Self-Harm or Suicidality

Xanthopoulou, P., Ryan, M. & McCabe, R. ORCID: 0000-0003-2041-7383 (2022). Participating in Research: Experiences of People Presenting to the Emergency Department With Self-Harm or Suicidality. International Journal of Qualitative Methods, 21, article number 1609406922. doi: 10.1177/16094069221110297


Research on sensitive topics with vulnerable populations is challenging in terms of ensuring safety and obtaining ethical approval. We explored the experiences of people with self-harm/suicidality who had taken part in research that included being video-recorded. Twenty-two semi-structured interviews took place within 2 weeks of attending the Emergency Department and were thematically analysed. Participating in research when in distress and in a challenging environment was found to be overwhelmingly positive. Participants valued contributing their time and insight, particularly when research was conducted in a skilled and kind manner. They identified personal (e.g., talking as part of the healing process) and wider benefits (e.g., helping to improve services) of participation, which for most, negated the difficulty of discussing highly sensitive topics when in crisis. Despite the potential ‘intrusiveness’ of video-recording, it was found to be acceptable by those who participated in the follow up interviews, a better method for learning and capturing interactions than e.g., questionnaires, and did not impede communication and the disclosure of distress.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: Creative Commons CC BY: This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License ( which permits any use, reproduction and distribution of the work without further permission provided the original work is attributed as specified on the SAGE and Open Access pages (
Publisher Keywords: emergency care research, vulnerable participants, suicidality, video-recording
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
R Medicine > RC Internal medicine > RC0321 Neuroscience. Biological psychiatry. Neuropsychiatry
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Healthcare Services Research & Management
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