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Post-Deception Debriefing Session

A debriefing session takes place after a participant completes their portion of the study (or when a participant decides to withdraw from a study before the study is complete). There are two types of debriefing sessions, an educational debriefing session and a post-deception debriefing session. Both sessions will function in essentially the same manner; i.e. the researcher will meet with the participant after their participation ends to discuss the study and provide the participant with a written debriefing statement. The purpose of an educational debriefing session is to provide a participant with educational feedback regarding the study and is required for studies using participant pools (please see Participant Pools: Educational Debriefing Sessions for more information).

The same education information about the study may also be included in a post-deception debriefing session, but the purpose of this session is to also discuss any deception in a study, provide a full explanation of the purpose of the study, and explain why a participant was deceived. This method may also be used for participants who were involved in a study where the study was potentially upsetting or concerning, and the debriefing session will be used to help the participant better understand the context for their upsetting experience as well as help the researcher gauge the participant’s response to see if any additional help is needed to ameliorate the study’s affects. A carefully conducted debriefing session can help a participant to gain meaning from their experience, which can significantly improve a participant’s ability to handle even a stressful and/or upsetting experience, helping reduce any lasting impact from the study.

The debriefing session should be considered a secondary consent session. You will give the participant a post-deception consent form. Now that the participant understands the full scope of the study, the participant has the opportunity to decide whether he or she wants to include their data in the study. Unless other circumstances disallow it, ideal debriefings are done verbally and interactively with participants (in addition to providing the standard written debriefing). A written debriefing statement should always use non-technical language and provide participants with a clear sense of the main question and the importance of the answer.

Section Topic

Information Included in Debriefing Session
Sample Debrief Statement

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