What is the purpose of this research?

There are several reasons for this research. First, we want to understand why people engage in self-injury. Second, we want to understand what types of thoughts, feelings, and experiences earlier in life may be involved in this decision.

Participation is voluntary. What does that mean?

It is your choice whether or not to participate in this research.  If you choose to participate, you may change your mind and leave the study at any time.  Refusal to participate or stopping your participation will involve no penalty or loss of benefits to which you are otherwise entitled.

How long will I take part in this research? What can I expect if I take part in this research?

As a participant, you will complete some questionnaires online. This will include some questions about self-injurious thoughts and behaviors. It will also include questions about difficult and stressful experiences. You'll also be contacted daily for four weeks to answer a few questions and to complete a brief (~5 minute) writing task. Finally, we'll contact you again about 1 month and 3 months later to complete a few more questionnaires online. You'll be paid for each part of the study you complete.

What are the risks and possible discomforts?

We do not expect significant risks associated with participating in this study.

There is a risk that you might become upset during the study.  Some people may find the questions about self-harm cause negative feelings or make them think about self-harm. Similarly, some people may feel upset when responding to personal questions. We do not think these feelings will last for more than a few minutes. If we learn that you feel like harming yourself, we will provide you with the list of hotlines and resources to help keep you safe. (These will include the same resources you were given after completing the screening questionnaire.)

Are there any benefits from being in this research study?

There is no guarantee of direct benefit to you in this study. You may benefit from writing about your thoughts and behaviors.

At the end of the study, we will provide a thorough explanation of the study and of our hypotheses. We will describe the potential implications of the results both if our hypotheses are supported and if they are disconfirmed. If you’d like, you can send an email message to Kathryn Fox (kfox@g.harvard.edu) and we will send you a copy of any manuscripts based on the research (or summaries of our results).

Will I be compensated for participating in this research?

You will be paid up to $180 for completing this study. Compensation will be in the form of gift cards to Amazon, iTunes, or Starbucks (depending on which you prefer). Gift cards will be sent directly to your email address.

To help maintain your privacy, we suggest that you use an email address that does not include identifiable information, such as your name.

If I take part in this research, how will my privacy be protected? What happens to the information you collect?

The data we collect will be confidential. We are only collecting your first name on this form and your email address to be able to pay you.  We will keep the email address separate from all other data, and label your data with a code number instead. The list connecting your email address with this number will be destroyed once all the data have been collected and we have sent you your gift cards. 

If I have any questions, concerns or complaints about this research study, who can I talk to?

  • If you have questions about this research, wish to contact the research team, or believe that the research may have harmed you, please contact us by email at kfox@g.harvard.edu. We typically reply to emails within 24-hours. If you have an emergency, please call 911 or go to your local Emergency Department.
  • For any questions about your rights or any questions, concerns, suggestions, or complaints that are not being addressed by the researcher, or research-related harm contact the Committee on the Use of Human Subjects in Research at Harvard University, 1414 Massachusetts Avenue, Second Floor, Cambridge, MA  02138. Phone:  617-496-2847 (CUHS). Email: cuhs@fas.harvard.edu.
  • Remember, you may stop being in the study at any time. All you have to do is email us and ask to be removed from the study (no questions will be asked).  You can also skip specific questions that are too disturbing to you and still be in the study.