Researcher Self-Care in Emotionally Demanding Research: A Proposed Conceptual Framework

Qualitative Health Research
Volume 28, Issue 4, March 2018

Research Articles
Researcher Self-Care in Emotionally Demanding Research: A Proposed Conceptual Framework
Smita Kumar, Liz Cavallaro
First Published December 9, 2017; pp. 648–658
Researchers are emotionally and psychologically affected by emotionally demanding research that demands a tremendous amount of mental, emotional, or physical energy and potentially affects or depletes the researcher’s well-being. Little attention has been given to preparing doctoral students and novice researchers engaged in such studies. Four possible types of emotionally demanding research experiences are presented: sensitive issues, personal trauma previously experienced, experience of traumatic life events during research, and unexpected events that arise during research in what was previously not identified as a sensitive issue. The need for self-care is highly relevant to each type, despite their different impacts on researcher well-being. This conceptual article furthers conversation in the field about how researchers and educators can address the need for self-care to prepare novice researchers and proposes a conceptual framework for researcher self-care in emotionally demanding research, with an aim for future empirical study.