Appeal for people with unusal experiences


Participant Information Sheet
An investigation of how people interpret and respond to unusual experiences

We are Tom Ward and Keith Gaynor, trainee clinical psychologists, studying at King’s College London. We’re interested in speaking to people who have unusual experiences or spiritual or mystical experiences.  

Why this research?

Recent research has shown that many people describe having unusual experiences like hearing voices or changes in one’s perception, or extrasensory communications or spiritual-type experiences. These types of unusual experiences (like any other experience) can be interpreted and responded to in different ways. For some people these experiences have a negative impact on their life and result in input from mental health services. For others these experiences have a positive impact. This research will attempt to identify what distinguishes between people whose unusual experiences become distressing from those for whom this is not the case.
You may worry that this project might involve negative judgements of people whose experience and beliefs might be considered unconventional or unusual- this is NOT the aim of the study. On the contrary, we are interested in gaining a fuller understanding of the different ways in which people interpret and respond to unusual experiences.
It is entirely up to you to decide if you want to take part or not and you can decide to stop participating at any point in the process.    

What will you be asked to do?

Taking part will involve meeting with one of us, on one occasion. Everyone involved in the study will complete the same task and questionnaires.
We will ask you about some of your unusual experiences. We will ask you to complete a set of questionnaires- these will assess mood and some of the strategies that you use when the unusual experiences occur. We will ask you to complete two computer-based tasks- one will look at the effect of distraction on a visual attention task and the other will involve a simple test of deductive reasoning. 

The important details:

Should you be interested in taking part, one of us will telephone you. During this call we will ask some short questions regarding your previous experiences. At this point you will be invited to meet for the study session at a convenient time and place. This session should take about an hour and half and with your permission it may be taped. 
We are able to reimburse any travel expenses that you incur and offer you £15 for your time.
All information which is collected during the course of the research will be kept strictly confidential. The data will be collected and stored in accordance with the Data Protection Act 1998, secured against unauthorised access. The tapes of the interview will be stored in a locked filing cabinet. 
You have the right to withdraw from the study at any time without having to give a reason. If you decide to withdraw from the study any information that you have given will be destroyed and you will not be contacted by us again. 
Overall results of the study will be available to every participant if they want them, after completion of the study in June 2010. The results of the study will be written up as an internal report that will be submitted as part of an educational qualification. It is also intended that the results of the study will be published in a peer reviewed journal. 
We are conducting this research with Dr Emmanuelle Peters (Senior Lecturer and Honorary Consultant Clinical Psychologist) and Professor Philippa Garety (Professor of Clinical Psychology and Honorary Consultant Clinical Psychologist).
All information is completely anonymous. No individual will be identifiable from the published results.

Who has reviewed the study?

This research study has been reviewed and approved by East London and the City Research Ethics Committee 1 on 28th August 2009 (REC Number:09/H0703/83).

Contact Details:

[These have been removed because the appeal is now closed]

Thank you for taking the time to read this sheet and considering whether to take part in the research study.


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