The Acceptability of Deception in Pediatric Research
Noel, Melanie Elizabeth
Boerner, Katelynn Elizabeth
Birnie, Kathryn A
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Objective: Deception has been used to investigate the role of developmental and behavioral factors in child health; however, its acceptability for use in pediatric research has received little empirical attention. This study examined the acceptability of deception in a pediatric pain research study as assessed via participating children’s and parents’ long-term perceptions of its use. Method: Ninety-four children (52 boys; Mage = 12.77 years) and their parents (86 mothers, 8 fathers) completed a structured interview that assessed perceptions of various aspects of deception in a pediatric pain study, two and a half years after participating. Results: A minority of parents (25.5%) and children (13.8%) spontaneously recalled that deception was used. Overall, parents and children reported positive experiences with research participation, felt comfortable with the debriefing process, and deemed the research to be of societal importance. Opinions about researchers and psychologists were not negatively impacted and most reported willingness to participate in research involving deception again. Conclusion: When thoughtfully planned and disclosed, deception in pediatric research appears to be acceptable to parents and children. Future research should further examine the acceptability of deception and alternatives (e.g., authorized deception) among pediatric samples.
Noel, M., Boerner, K.E., Birnie, K.A., Caes, L., Parker, J.A., Chambers, C.T., Fernandez, C.V., & Lee, K. (2015). Acceptability by parents and children of deception in pediatric research. Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics, 36(2), 75-85. doi: 10.1097/DBP.0000000000000122. PMID: 25650951.