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Durham University

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Publication details for Professor Simon Hackett

Masson, H., Balfe, M., Hackett, S. & Phillips, J. (2012). Making use of historical case material: the problems of looking back and the implications for service development in relation to research and evaluation activities. Journal of Sexual Aggression 18(1): 112-122.

Author(s) from Durham


This methodological paper details the process of embarking on a follow-up study of young people with sexual behaviour problems who were known to services in the 1990s and who are now young adults in their 20s or early 30s. In the context of the importance of such follow-up work, the overall aim and objectives of the funded research project are specified and the challenges presented in setting up research partnerships with service sites, including the negotiation of access and ethical approval, are the subject of overview and reflection. The practicalities of beginning the fieldwork which comprised an initial analysis of historical case material held in the research sites are then detailed and the solutions to the problems encountered are explained. The paper concludes by identifying the kinds of questions services and researchers need to consider when wanting to engender or enhance a research culture which is facilitative of this kind of outcome research. These relate to the resources necessary to support a research culture, the requirements of data protection and ethical approval processes, obtaining service user consent to participate in future research, secure but accessible storage of records, staff development and researchers’ obligations to minimise disruption to already hard-pressed services.