Doing More Good than Harm? The Effects of Participation in Sex Research on Young People in the Netherlands

L. Kuyper, J.B.F. De Wit, Ph. Adam, L. Woertman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Ethical guidelines for research with human participants stress the importance of minimizing risks and maximizing benefits. In order to assist Institutional Review Boards (IRBs) and researchers to make more informed risk/benefit analyses with regard to sex research among adolescents, the current study examined the effects of participation in sex research among 899 young people (15-25 years old). Participants completed three questionnaires on a wide range of sexuality-related measures. They also completed scales measuring their levels of distress, need for help, and positive feelings due to their research participation. In general, negative effects of research participation seemed limited, while benefits of participation appeared substantial. Several differences with regard to sociodemographic characteristics were found (e.g., females experienced more distress then males and younger or lower educated participants experienced more positive feelings). In addition, victims of sexual coercion reported more distress and need for help due to their participation, but also experienced more positive feelings. No significant differences were found in relation to experience with sexual risk behaviors (e.g., experience with one-night-stands). Several limitations of the study were discussed, as were implications for future research. Overall, the findings caution IRBs and researchers against being overly protective regarding the inclusion of young people in sex research.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)497-506
Number of pages10
JournalArchives of Sexual Behavior
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2012


  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Education
  • Emotions
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Netherlands
  • Research
  • Research Subjects
  • Sex Factors
  • Sexual Behavior
  • Stress, Psychological
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Journal Article
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't


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