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The psychological impact of having a missing loved one
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Participant Information Sheet and Consent Form
This is an invitation for you to participate in a study conducted as part of a PhD project at the University of Wollongong, NSW, Australia. This research seeks to understand the emotional processes people go through when they have a missing loved one, as well as the ways in which people cope with this kind of loss. Through this research, we hope to gain insight into how the best possible support may be provided for those left behind.

Cecilia Hammell
(PhD Candidate)
School of Psychology

Prof Frank Deane
(Principal Supervisor)
School of Psychology

Dr Amy Chan
(Secondary Supervisor)
School of Psychology

If you are aged 18 years or older, fluent in written and spoken English, have a loved one who is missing, and are open to sharing your experience you are eligible to take part in this study.

If you chose to participate in this research you will be asked to complete a series of online questionnaires. The questions asked will focus on your thoughts, coping strategies, and emotions both in general and specific to your personal experience of having a missing loved one. For each set of questions, you will be provided with a rating scale (e.g., “on a scale of 1 –almost never to 5 – almost always”) and asked to select the response that best represents you. Some examples of questions you may be asked include: “In the past month, how often have you felt yourself longing or yearning for the person who is missing?” and “how true is the following statement: I get upset with myself for having certain thoughts”. You will also be asked to provide some information regarding the nature of your loved one’s disappearance such as how long they have been missing to you and what your relationship with them was like prior to their disappearance. This survey will take no longer than 30 minutes to complete. You do not have to complete the survey in one sitting, you can note down your participation code (in the top right corner of the screen), and resume your participation over multiple occasions if you wish. Please understand that your participation in this study is completely voluntary and you are free to withdraw your consent at any time without consequence. The information you share will be treated with respect.

It is important to note that some of the questions, especially those which ask you to recall some of your thoughts and feelings around the person who is missing, may be upsetting. If you feel the need for support you can contact the following services:

Australia: Families and Friends of Missing Persons Unit Counselling Service on 1800 227 772 (NSW only), Relationships Australia on 1300 364 277 (NSW, ACT and QLD only), or the 24 hour telephone support service Lifeline on 13 11 14 (Australia wide).

New Zealand: Lifeline Aotearoa (24 hour telephone support service) on 0800 543 354 or the Salvation Army Family Tracing Service NZ to ask about specialised support services, +64 4 382 0710

All countries: Missing Persons lifeline. This service offers emotional support during the disappearance of a loved one. Although located in the United Kingdom, Missing Persons Lifeline is free to call or text from any country. If you are located within the UK call 116 000. If you are calling from outside of the UK call +44 208 3924545.

The data gathered in this study will be used as part of a doctoral thesis, for publication in academic journals and for presentation at conferences. All information you provide will be anonymous unless you choose to disclose your email address and/or phone number to express interest in participating in future research and/or to indicate interest in receiving information regarding the findings of this study. All information provided will be kept confidential and data from participants who disclose these details will be identifiable by code only. The electronic data obtained in this research will be kept on a password-protected computer in the researcher’s office at the University of Wollongong. Only the researcher and research supervisors will have access to this data. Since you can respond to the questionnaires anonymously, after you have participated you will not be able to withdraw your data because we will not be able to identify your particular responses.

This study has been reviewed by the Human Research Ethics Committee of the University of Wollongong. If you have any concerns or complaints regarding the manner in which this research is conducted, you may contact the UOW Ethics Officer on (+61) (02) 4221 3386 or email: rso-ethics@uow.edu.au

If you have any questions please do not hesitate to email Cecilia, ch969@uowmail.edu.au

By continuing you are making a decision to participate.

Having read the information provided above, I understand that my participation involves:
* Completing a series of online questionnaires regarding my personal experience of having had a loved one go missing
* Use of the data I provide as part of a doctoral thesis, for publication in academic journals and for presentation at conferences
* The freedom to withdraw my consent at any time *

I meet the eligibility criteria specified to take part in this study *

I agree with the above terms and wish to continue *