Ethical and Practical Realities of Using Letters for Recruitment in Bereavement Research

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Recruitment of participants into sensitive research, such as a bereavement study, can be difficult. The diversity of recruitment methods used in such research is a testament to the complexities of undertaking such a task. The variety of recruitment techniques also highlights the lack of consensus on the best way to contact bereaved participants. There is limited guidance on acceptability to participants or research ethics committees such as Institutional Review Boards (IRBs) or Human Research Ethics Committees (HRECs), or on what is practical for the research team. Some evidence suggests that bereaved parents prefer to be contacted via letters (Dyregrov, 2004; Hynson, Aroni, Bauld, & Sawyer, 2006), but research approval committees may have different concerns, and letters can be used in several ways within a single study.
This paper presents a case study analysis of three recruitment variations in a larger constructivist grounded theory study, to highlight the ethical and practical realities encountered. Case study methodology allowed us to focus intensely on each recruitment variation as a unique case and provided a framework to analyze issues within and across cases and discuss important lessons learned (Creswell, 2013; Sandelowski, 2011; Yin, 2009).
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