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How can affected persons participate?

Participation in the study is completely voluntary and anonymous and can be withdrawn at any time – also when a person has already decided to participate or has already been interviewed. Should an affected person no longer wish to participate, all collected data concerning him or her will be deleted. Only persons who grew up in Vienna and the surrounding area can participate.

Participation in the study is not linked to any consequences, obligations, or other dependencies on the part of the participants.

The questionnaires and interviews started in September 2014 Opens internal link in current windowHere you will find information on how potential participants are contacted.

There are 3 different ways to participate:

1. Passive participation

With the consent of the participant, the research team will be allowed to gain an insight into his or her documentation at the Vienna Youth and Family Offices (Municipal Department 11) and into the clearing report of the organization Weißer Ring. These files will be analyzed in anonymized form, which means that the participants’ names will not appear anywhere and nobody will know that they participated in the study.

2. Active participation

In addition to the passive participation, interested persons have the option of an active participation in the study.

For the active participation we invite affected persons to an interview including questionnaires and a brief diagnostic interview. This personal interview is carried out by one of our trained employees. Various topics are surveyed using the questionnaires, for example: the present state of health, psychological and physical complaints, regulation of anger and irritation, and experiences of violence and abuse. Additionally, we optionally ask study participants for a small hair sample, so that we can measure long-term cortisol levels by means of a biological hair analysis. It will not be visible that a sample was taken. Cortisol is a stress hormone and can provide information about the experience of stress (which includes traumatic experiences) throughout the lifespan. So what we are trying to do here by means of a biological value is to measure how the body copes with stress and traumatic experiences over a long period of time. Opens external link in new windowHere you will find a video from the Dresden University of Technology about the hair-sampling method.

Experience shows that active participation can last about 1.5 to 2.5 hours, depending on how much a participant tells us.

Only after we have received the written consent of the affected persons to a passive or active participation, we can process their data or, in the case of active participation, contact them. Due to the absolute protection of personal data, up to that point in time the research team does not obtain any information on persons. This is only possible with the consent of the affected persons and the return of the signed approval/ declaration of consent.

If a person decides to actively participate in our study, one of our staff members will contact this person after having received his or her informed consent in order to arrange an appointment for the interview.


3. In-depth interviews

Beyond that we would like to conduct personal in-depth interviews with some participants. For such an interview we would arrange another appointment. The questions are concerned with aspects that cannot be explored adequately in the context of a questionnaire survey or the brief diagnostic interview. For instance: the personal way of looking at the events and experiences; emotions and thoughts related to the experiences; individual consequences of the experiences; personal strategies to deal with what was experienced; what was helpful – what would be helpful.

Persons without experiences of abuse in institutions of the child welfare system of Vienna or other institutions

Apart from the group of persons affected by abuse in institutions of the child welfare system of Vienna, other persons, who were not affected by such experiences, will also participate in the study. These persons will be given the same questionnaires as the affected persons. Thus, the research team will be able to compare the current condition of affected persons with the condition of persons without experiences of institutional abuse. Persons who were not exposed to institutional abuse will be contacted in the context of several Master’s theses at the Faculty of Psychology (University of Vienna).

University of Vienna

Universitätsring 1
1010 Vienna
T: +43-1-4277-47221
University of Vienna | Universitätsring 1 | 1010 Vienna | T +43-1-4277-0