Disability Research in Australia: Deciding to Be a Research Participant and the Experience of Participation

Published 7th February 2023

Little is known about why people with disability choose to take part in disability research and what their experience is like. What we do know is that the 4 million+ Australians living with disability experience poorer health than those without. People with disability use health care services at far higher rates than the general population but paradoxically face greater barriers to care.  

A recent study by THC researchers investigated the perspectives and experiences of a group of Australian adults with disability regarding their involvement in research, aiming to understand participants’ approaches to decision-making. 

The study found that people with disability are faced with complex and multi-faceted decision-making about their research participation. The attitudes and behaviours of researchers in cultivating trust by adopting empathic approaches to the ways they conduct disability research appear to be important.  

To facilitate participation and improve the research experience, empathy and approachability appear to be key characteristics for researchers to consider. An empathic and open approach to the entire research process, from recruitment to the research environments themselves, appear likely to improve participant experience and uptake of research.  



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