The effects of interviewing on the comfort levels of children with varying levels of sensitivity to questions that touch on their felt security and perceptions of being in kinship care: A Pilot Study.
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameDoctor of Philosophy
Aim: This thesis reports the outcomes of a study designed to explore whether and how ethical and responsive interviewing of children in care with varying levels of sensitivity to topics that may threaten their felt security can be achieved. Background: Children come into care with a complex array of developmental challenges. They have often experienced maltreatment, loss and disrupted attachment relationships. Little is known about the effects of interviewing children in care with varying sensitivity to questioning strategies designed to measure felt security and their perceptions of being in care. Methods: The present study was iteratively designed using an exploratory mixed qualitative design. Children’s reports (N= 12) were collected using a series of iteratively designed interview methodologies supplemented by information provided by their kinship carers. Results: The following factors influence the comfort experiences of children in care: interviewer skill, interviewer and child role, child competence (perceived and real), child characteristics, external factors, ethical factors and the interview methods. The potential influence of mental health status and age were less clear. Factors related to felt insecurity were: relational, self-perceived competence and confidentiality related factors. The maintenance of the comfort experience of children in care when interviewing, cuts across many dimensions of the research context including relational, performance and methodological aspects. Children engaged in strategies to mediate their comfort, this was somewhat reliant on the methodologies and interviewer competency. Overall acceptable levels of comfort were reported to be maintained over the span of the research process. Conclusions: Children in care have vulnerabilities that need to be addressed when including them in research. Careful consideration to the design of studies and interview methodologies will ensure children in care can participate in protective research environments. The benefits to this are reflected in the gathering of quality data which can contribute to the timely provision of the appropriate services for children in care. The present study findings provide guidance for future research involving children in various types of alternate care.