Youth participation in qualitative research: Challenges and possibilities

Lisa Schelbe, Amy Chanmugam, Tally Moses, Susan Saltzburg, Lela Williams, Joan Letendre

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

50 Scopus citations


Research often excludes youth participants, omitting their social and psychological realities, undermining their rights to participate and benefit from research, and weakening the validity of research. Researchers may be discouraged from including youth due to logistical (e.g. gaining access) or ethical (e.g. coercion risks based on developmental level) concerns. Increased discussion is needed around appropriate methods to use with child and youth participants that manage challenges related to developmental capacities, legal status, power differentials, and unpredictable aspects of qualitative research. This paper pools experiences of six researchers, describing solutions we have developed in studies employing varied qualitative methodologies with varied vulnerable youth subpopulations. We detail successful approaches to access, compensation, consent, assent, and confidentiality. Social work researchers are wellsuited to navigate the challenges, and we share our examples with the aim of facilitating increased youth participation in research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)504-521
Number of pages18
JournalQualitative Social Work
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 22 2015


  • Youth participation
  • ethics
  • human rights
  • qualitative research
  • young people
  • youth

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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