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A Question of Safety: Hazards of In-Home Data Collection

Arthur PB, Mann WC. A Question of Safety: Hazards of In-Home Data Collection. Poster session presented at: Gerontological Society of America Annual Scientific Meeting; 2013 Nov 23; New Orleans, LA.


This poster describes results from a literature review investigating natural and imposed hazards associated with in-home data collection. In addition, the presentation provides training and protocol recommendations to increase data collector safety. Methods: The literature review describes hazardous experiences faced by data collectors and offers successful policies developed to prevent incidents. Articles were identified by keyword search from 5 databases. Based on pre-identified inclusion and exclusion criteria, 21 articles were selected for in-depth analysis and synthesized to illustrate specific hazards and recommendations for mediation. Results: Data collection in an investigator's setting (e.g. office, lab) maintains a level of authority and control that may not be present when entering a study participant's home. Unlike providers of home-based care and services, research involves the removal (taking) of information rather than provision of service. Imposed hazards include potential for accidents, travel dangers, lack of security and peer support, communication difficulties, structural/environmental dangers, and heightened vulnerability to physical and psychological harm. Data collector safety is often an afterthought in study protocol and training and collectors are often faced with limited resources and generally sense significant pressure to collect meaningful data, despite observed risks. Discussion: The limited number of studies implicitly addressing researcher safety made it difficult to identify direct associations between hazards and home-based data collection. Inferences are made from similar-environments including home-based healthcare and experiences from alternate fields. Future prospective studies are needed to solidify recommendations for researcher safety and researchers are encouraged to include safety protocols in their training and protocol.

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