Aberdeen City: Designing research for legal, inclusive and ethical participation - Case Study

Aberdeen City: Designing research for legal, inclusive and ethical participation - Case Study

Aberdeen City: Designing research for legal, inclusive and ethical participation

The Aberdeen City Pathfinder conducted research on a complex and sensitive topic to explore how technology enabled care can play a role in supporting the delivery of multi-agency services for people, aged 18+ who experience domestic abuse.

A trauma-informed approach to research was built into the project from the planning stage. Expertise from specialist organisations was particularly valuable in planning the research approach. Involving user-led and representative organisations helped the researchers to develop inclusive and accessible approaches for engaging with users.

Photo: Pexel

Photo: Pexel

The aim of the project

The first stage of the research focused on exploring the existing provision and services with stakeholder agencies and carrying out a desk review of relevant literature. Themed research findings from stage one were explored with citizens at stage two.

Domestic abuse is a complex subject. Sensitivity and the consideration of risks and impact when conducting research is vital. It was important to take a trauma-informed approach when designing and carrying out the research.

Key elements of the approach involved:

  • Engaging with specialist organisations who were able to provide expert advice from a lived experience perspective to inform research design and user engagement. For example, the SafeLives team in Scotland provided advice and sense-checked the approach, providing examples of best practice. The Scottish Commission for Learning Disability and People First provided input on making the process accessible and creating Easy Read formats.
  • The team attended relevant training and workshops about domestic abuse and engagement practices (including training with: Scottish Women’s Aid, Grampian Women’s Aid, SafeLives, the Chartered Institute of Housing and Scottish Government)
  • An ethics plan to provide a structured approach to delivering the project
  • A citizen engagement safeguarding checklist
  • Developing participant information and consent documentation, informed by the advice of the specialist organisiations.

Peer support for researchers, supported by the Community Chaplaincy Listening Service Volunteer Coordinator for NHS Grampian, has been an important element of the trauma-informed approach.


Hints and tips:

  • Consider and support the wellbeing of those who will be undertaking research as well as the participants when researching sensitive topics
  • Community and user-led organisations have valuable expertise and can advise on ways to plan research and engagement which is accessible and inclusive of the target population. Speak to them from the beginning.
  • Developing an Ethics Plan is a good way to embed legal, ethical and inclusive thinking in your planning.
Last Updated: 23 February 2024