Abstract. Aim. To critically evaluate the concepts of harm and re‐traumatization in the research process and to explore the ethical implications of conducting research on distressing topics using our research on the experiences of nurses working during the COVID‐19 pandemic as an exemplar. Design. Longitudinal qualitative interview study. Methods. Using qualitative narrative interviews, we explored the impacts of the COVID‐19 pandemic on nurses' psychological well‐being in the UK. Results. To reduce the potential for harm to both research participants and researchers, the members of the research team were keen to establish ways to reduce the power differential between the researcher and participants. We found that our collaborative and team‐based approach, with participant autonomy and researcher reflexivity embedded into the research framework, enabled the sensitive generation of data. Conclusion. Reduction of potential harm for both participants and researchers in the generation of at times highly distressing data with a traumatized population was achieved through a respectful, honest and empathetic approach within a team that met frequently for reflection. Impact. The research participants were not harmed by our research, instead they expressed gratitude at being given space and time to tell their stories in a supportive environment. Our work advances nursing knowledge through accentuating the value of giving autonomy to research participants to control their stories whilst working within a supportive research team with emphasis placed on reflexivity and debriefing. Patient and Public Contribution. Nurses working clinically during COVID‐19 were involved in the development of this study. Nurse participants were given autonomy over how and when they participated in the research process.



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Journal of Advanced Nursing



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School of Nursing and Midwifery