Best Practice Parameters for Research
ISTSS has formulated Best
Practice Parameters for trauma professionals as teachers,
clinicians, and scholars. The aim is to stimulate discussion and
exchange of information within the traumatic stress community.
ISTSS is dedicated to the discovery and dissemination of knowledge
about traumatic stressors and their immediate and long-term
consequences. While research is vital for the advancement of the field,
the welfare of research participants must take priority over any other
- Seek supervision and consultation when their research involves areas
or methodologies that exceed their expertise.
- Submit their investigatory proposals for review and approval by
available institutional ethical review boards. If an institutional
review board is not available, researchers seek consultation from an
independently constituted human subjects protection board or independent
knowledgeable researchers who have no real or apparent conflict of
interest with the primary investigator and research proposal and who can
participate in an independent examination of the proposed study to
determine whether its risks outweigh its benefit and to determine the
soundness of its methodology.
- Apply research standards in all research projects to ensure that
participants are treated humanely and with respect. These standards
include striving to:
Minimize risk while maximizing benefit to either
the participant and/or the field of traumatic stress. To minimize risks
to participants, researchers carefully screen participants and have
clear rules for stopping the study or for terminating participation in
response to study-related adverse events. When necessary, researchers
have procedures for reversing any adverse effects and procedures for
conducting follow-up assessments or interventions. These procedures are
especially needed in symptom provocation or challenge
Involve consumers (e.g., trauma survivors,
survivor advocates) to review research design and consent procedures
Ensure that participants clearly understand the
study’s purpose and procedures and that they have the option to
refuse or discontinue research participation at any point. [Note: In
most research that is observational or conducted as part of standard
operating procedures of an organization (i.e., quality assurance), such
consent is typically not required]. Researchers take particular care in
recruitment of potential participants who have limited decision-making
capacity or require special protection.
Are sensitive to cultural, ethnic, and political
issues in the development, conduct, and presentation of research. o
Devise mechanisms for protecting the confidentiality of information
provided by research participants. o Avoid use of procedures that
involve risk of harm unless anticipated benefits clearly outweigh the
risks. o Do not coerce research participation. o Cease a study when
numerous study-related adverse events are identified.
- Fully and accurately report original research findings and
methodology. Acknowledge due credit and offer authorship based on real
and proportional contributions.
- Provide specialized training as needed and responsible supervision
to all staff engaged in the conduct of the research.
- Adequately disguise descriptions of individuals or case
presentations unless information is in the public domain. Researchers
obtain explicit permission from an individual participant to present
case details that could identify the participant.
- Do not present forensic or clinical work as research unless informed
consent was obtained allowing them to do so or the work is based on
information in the public domain.
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