Navigating distress: Exploring factors affecting adolescent girls' wellbeing during and after a violence-focused survey in Maharashtra, India

Janina Isabel Steinert, Shruti Shukla, Rucha Vasumati Satish

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Ensuring the emotional wellbeing of participants in violence-focused research is a paramount ethical requirement. While previous research suggests that most participants in violence-focused studies do not report harmful consequences, little is known about the experiences of adolescent participants in low- and middle-income countries. Objective: This study, conducted in Maharashtra, India, aims at assessing how participant, contextual, and interviewer characteristics affect the level of distress that adolescent girls experience after participation in a violence survey. Methods: A total of 3049 13–18-year-old girls were interviewed on their experiences of family and intimate partner violence. Following the interview, both girls and interviewers completed a 5-item questionnaire on perceived participant distress. Linear regression analyses were conducted to identify possible correlates of girls' distress. Results: Less than 10 % of participants reported feelings of distress upon completion of the interview. Higher levels of interviewers' empathy were significantly associated with decreased levels of participants' distress (standardised beta: −0.25, p < 0.001). Reported distress was also lower if girls had opted for an audio- and mobile-assisted self-interview (ACASI) format (standardised beta: −0.05, p < 0.01) and if the interview was conducted by someone older (standardised beta: −0.22, p < 0.001). Conversely, if interviews were conducted in participants' homes and by interviewers with higher education levels, reported distress was significantly higher (standardised beta: 0.06, p < 0.01 and 0.12, p < 0.001, respectively). Conclusions: Our findings suggest that incorporating empathetic interviewing and trust-building techniques into interviewer training, offering ACASI interviews, and choosing interview locations that ensure confidentiality can help protect the wellbeing of participants in violence research.

Original languageEnglish
Article number106779
JournalChild Abuse and Neglect
StatePublished - Jun 2024


  • Audio- and mobile-assisted self-interviews
  • Emotional wellbeing
  • Family violence
  • Intimate partner violence
  • Survey methodology


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