Table 3

Lessons from remote data collection on violence

Lessons from remote data collection on violence
Study (re)design
  • Assess whether it is safe, ethical and feasible to interview women, young people and children about violence using remote methods. Explore opportunities to conduct remote data collection with stakeholders and caregivers on violence against children.

  • Limit remote data collection on personal experiences of violence to circumstances and in contexts where prior relationships have been developed with participants.

  • Engage a study team with prior training and experience collecting data on violence.

  • Build in additional staffing and support for researchers in order to offer participants flexibility with the days and times they can participate in interviews.

  • Build on previously established relationships and rapport with participants to ensure trust and confidence in participating in remote interviews.

  • Ensure timelines and budget allow for a redesign of the study to use remote methods. Budget lines should support funds for internet/data for researchers, and additional time to do interviews, as well as minimising mode effects when switching methods.

  • For quantitative surveys, design questions with response options that are not sensitive, for example, ‘yes’, ‘no’, ‘many times’.

  • For qualitative methods, avoid direct questions on personal experiences of violence so that the participants are able to maintain control over any personal disclosures.

  • Draw on in-country guidance on data collection during COVID-19 and ensure all aspects of the study design are fully approved by local research ethics committees.

  • Draw on guidance from WHO, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), UNICEF, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), and other stakeholders on conducting remote data collection on violence.

  • Write up, describe and be transparent about ethical considerations and challenges.

  • Exercise ongoing ethical judgement – establish debriefing/check-in groups about learnings and quandaries as they emerge.

  • Include training on remote data collection and data protection.

  • Train researchers to listen for distress, discomfort, interruptions and how to handle silences.

  • Acknowledge and be aware of power hierarchies that may prevent researchers from raising concerns.

  • Offer training on researcher self-care with strategies for enhancing group connectivity when conducting remote violence research.

Data collection
  • Design data collection to respond to the availability of participants and plan study staffing accordingly.

  • Build in safety checks and the process for interruptions. Develop protocols for how to respond if someone else takes the phone away, or safety is compromised.

  • Have multiple platforms available for remote connection to participants.

  • Use secure platforms for data collection and storage (eg, a study office where all data collection takes place, encrypted and secure tablets).

  • Build in contingencies for COVID-19 related delays.

  • Redesign referral and safeguarding processes for remote data collection.

  • Engage counsellors to be part of the study team, or ensure referral lists for external organisations developed prior to COVID-19 are updated in the context of COVID-19.

  • Ensure organisations in the referral network are functioning, phone numbers are updated, and organisations are accepting referrals before data collection begins.

  • Offer telemedicine and telecounselling by experienced and trained staff, preferably known to participants.

  • Check in to support researchers remotely with any sensitive emerging safeguarding issues.

Support to researchers collecting data
  • Provide a safe space and access to a counsellor.

  • Include structured weekly debrief sessions with study Principal Investigators or the study coordinator to help troubleshoot any challenges and provide space for interviewers to discuss issues affecting them.

  • Have regular check-ins and meetings to discuss wellbeing, assess challenges and make adaptations to better suppor researchers. Use WhatsApp groups with regular contact if helpful.

  • Practise empathy for the context and situations of researchers.