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3 Health & Just. 1 (2015)

handle is hein.journals/hlthjs3 and id is 1 raw text is: Quinn Health and Justice 20153:1
DOI 10.1186/s40352-014-0013-z

Health & Justice

STD  PRO4CS: S  S             Acces

General considerations for research with
vulnerable populations: Ten lessons for success
Camille R Quinn
Background: This paper offers practical insights for researchers who conduct studies with vulnerable populations,
including those using secondary data sources from government entities.
Methods/Design: The paper is based on the approval process to secure secondary government data from a
Midwestern county juvenile probation department and the state courts for the author's dissertation study.
Discussion: This paper proposes general considerations and ten lessons learned to successfully conduct research
with vulnerable populations and/or their information.

Youth involved in the juvenile justice system comprise a
vulnerable population based on their age and because of
their system involvement. Scholars have identified a pro-
file of vulnerable youth that is made up of primarily
poor, African American males (Foster et al. 2005), and
risk factors associated with delinquency (Fraser et al.
1999; Werner 2000). Consequently, future research must
continue to elucidate ways to address the complex and
multi-faceted needs of vulnerable populations, especially
those involved in the juvenile justice system. One of the
key issues facing researchers studying justice involved
youth, is their designation as a vulnerable population,
and how that impacts the researchers' ability to include
them as subjects in their studies. Consequently, re-
searchers whose studies include vulnerable populations
need to understand the specific issues related to con-
ducting research with them.
Researchers face many challenges in conducting re-
search, especially when vulnerable populations are in-
volved. The Department of Health and Human Services
(DHHS) federal regulations recognize certain categories
of individuals as 'vulnerable, so they need to be accorded
special protections to make sure that researchers do not
take advantage of them (Coleman, Menikoff, Goldner,
and Dubler 2005). Also, the federal government regulates
human subjects research with institutional review boards
Correspondence: camille_Quinn@urmc.rochester.edu
NIH/NMIH NRSA Postdoctoral Fellow Department of Psychiatry, School of
Medicine & Dentistry, 300 Crittenden Boulevard Box PSYCH, Rochester, NY
14642, USA

1Ei Springer

(IRBs) at academic institutions that conduct research stud-
ies. Among other things, the IRB wants to ensure that
researchers maintain privacy and confidentiality of subjects
(Schwenzer 2008) or the subjects' information. Achieving
IRB approval for studies is a complex and time-consuming
process, and studying vulnerable populations, such as
youth in the juvenile justice system, makes the process
even more difficult. Moreover, the use of government
information about vulnerable youth requires the approval
of government entities as well as IRBs.
Human ethics and research committees act as research
gatekeepers, and since many research activities involve
multiple applications and approvals, the process can
significantly delay the start and completion of a project
(McCauley-Elson et al. 2009). Consequently, it is critical
for researchers to understand the ethical principles out-
lined in the Belmont Report, especially when studying
vulnerable populations. The Belmont Report is a useful
reference for highlighting important considerations about
conducting research with vulnerable populations including
justice-involved youth. The report, prepared by the Na-
tional Commission for the Protection of Human Subjects
of Biomedical and Behavioral Research, is a declaration on
the ethical principles overseeing human experimentation
(Public Health Service 1979). The report continues to ar-
ticulate enduring normative standards regarding research
practices with vulnerable populations even though it was
originally issued in 1979 (Dresser 1996).

© 2015 Quinn; licensee Springer. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons
Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction
in any medium, provided the original work is properly credited.

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