Cultural and ethical issues concerning research on American Indian youth

Arlene Rubin Stiffman, Eddie Brown, Catherine Woodstock Striley, Emily Ostmann, Gina Chowa

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


A study of American Indian youths illustrates competing pressures between research and ethics. A stakeholder-researcher team developed three plans to protect participants. The first allowed participants to skip potentially upsetting interview sections. The second called for participants flagged for abuse or suicidality to receive referrals, emergency 24-hr clinical backup, or both. The third, based on the community's desire to promote service access, included giving participants a list of service resources. Interviewers gave referrals to participants flagged as having mild problems, and reported participants with serious problems to supervisors for clinical backup. Participants seldom chose to skip sections, so data integrity was not compromised. However, participants did have more problems than expected (e.g., 1 in 3 had thought about suicide, 1 in 5 had attempted suicide, and 1 in 4 reported abuse), so service agencies were not equipped to respond. Researchers must accept the competing pressures and find ethically appropriate compromises that will not undermine research integrity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-14
Number of pages14
JournalEthics and Behavior
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2005
Externally publishedYes


  • Abuse
  • Adolescent research
  • Consent
  • Ethics
  • Suicide

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Psychology(all)


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