Predicting the Effects of Sexual Assault Research Participation: Reactions, Perceived Insight, and Help-Seeking

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National Institutes of Health (NIH)
This study examined effects of participating in survey research for women sexual assault survivors with other trauma histories to understand the role of study participation on reported insight and long-term help-seeking behaviors. A diverse sample of 1,863 women from a large Midwestern city participated in a three-year study on women’s experiences with sexual assault. Regression analyses were conducted to: a) examine predictors of immediate positive and negative reactions to survey participation, and b) assess the impact of the survey on reported insight and women’s long-term help-seeking behavior. Overall most women in the study had a higher positive than negative reaction to the survey (92%), with a significant proportion indicating they sought additional services as a result of participating (55%). Women with CSA, more emotion dysregulation, and more characterological self-blame had more negative reactions to the survey while those with more education and individual adaptive coping had more positive reactions. Women who said they gained insight from answering survey questions were most likely to seek additional help. This study extends the literature by examining cumulative trauma and post-assault symptoms in relation to the effects of survey participation. This is also the first study of women sexual assault survivors to find a relationship between gaining reported insight from research and subsequent help-seeking. Participating in sexual assault research may help survivors gain greater insight into their recovery, which can lead them to seek out more resources for their ongoing trauma-related problems. (Author Abstract)
Survey Results, Longitudinal Research, Research Ethics, Sensitive Research Methods, Trauma-informed, Reactions to Research Participation, Victim Voice, Empowerment, Sexual Assault, Rape, Sexual Violence, Coping, Help Seeking, Disclosure, Social Support, Emotional Distress, Victim Impact
Kirkner, A., Relyea, M., & Ullman, S. E. (2019). Predicting the Effects of Sexual Assault Research Participation: Reactions, Perceived Insight, and Help-Seeking. Journal of interpersonal violence: 34(17), 3592–3613.