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Photo-documenting the needle exchange: methods and ethics

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When research subjects are people with stigmatized identities, then special consideration must be given to their desire for privacy and anonymity. This is especially true when photographs constitute the recorded data. This paper discusses some challenges in conducting research in a needle exchange located in a small city. Within the needle exchange, the camera posed a threat to drug users who preferred to remain anonymous, if not invisible. Ethical considerations and emotional frustration, stemming from the need and desire to get photographs of clients while respecting their obvious desire for privacy, are discussed. The practical difficulties associated with getting photographs and some methods for facilitating interaction with clients are also presented.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 October 2004

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