Academic journal article European Journal of Psychotraumatology

Experiences from Coordinating Research after the 2011 Terrorist Attacks in Norway

Academic journal article European Journal of Psychotraumatology

Experiences from Coordinating Research after the 2011 Terrorist Attacks in Norway

Article excerpt


Experiences from coordinating research after the 2011 terrorist attacks in Norway

Nils O. Refsdal*

The Norwegian National Committees for Research Ethics, Oslo, Norway


This brief report presents some of the lessons learned from coordinating research in which people directly affected by terrorist attacks in Norway in 2011 are taking part. After the terrorist attacks, it was decided to establish a national coordinating function in order to protect those who were affected when they participate in research. By gathering key stakeholders, it is possible to avoid duplication of research through practical measures such as information sharing, facilitating cooperation, and working toward sharing of data. In addition, a coordinating function provides a platform for working to increase the impact of the research among practitioners and policy makers, and inform the general public. The conclusions are that coordination should be interdisciplinary, that it is important to plan for the sharing and reuse of data, and that both the research community and the research infrastructure should take steps to improve preparedness when disaster inevitably strikes again.

Keywords: Disaster; research ethics; data sharing; terrorism; disaster research

Responsible Editor: Grete Dyb, Norwegian Centre for Violence and Traumatic Stress Studies, NKVTS, Norway.

*Correspondence to: Nils O. Refsdal, The Norwegian National Committees for Research Ethics, Kongens gate 14, NO-0153 Oslo, Norway, Email:

For the abstract or full text in other languages, please see Supplementary files under Article Tools online

This paper is part of the Special Issue: Understanding terror and violence in the lives of children and adolescents . More papers from this issue can be found at

Received: 30 October 2013; Revised: 19 May 2014; Accepted: 23 May 2014; Published: 2 July 2014

European Journal of Psychotraumatology 2014. © 2014 Nils O. Refsdal. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 Unported (CC BY 4.0) License (, allowing third parties to copy and redistribute the material in any medium or format, and to remix, transform, and build upon the material, for any purpose, even commercially, under the condition that appropriate credit is given, that a link to the license is provided, and that you indicate if changes were made. You may do so in any reasonable manner, but not in any way that suggests the licensor endorses you or your use.

Citation: European Journal of Psychotraumatology 2014, 5 : 23215 -

Not long after the terrorist attacks in Norway in July 2011, it became evident that there were several researchers who wanted to conduct research related to the terrorist attacks, particularly within health research. The South-Eastern Norway Regional Health Authority (Helse Sør-Øst) flagged the need to coordinate research not only to avoid duplication and an unnecessary strain on those who were affected but also to maximize the potential benefit from the research (Norwegian Directorate of Health, 2011). The Ministry of Health decided that the National Committees for Research Ethics in Norway would handle the coordinating function. A coordinator was appointed in August 2012 and the coordinating group was appointed shortly after. In this brief report, written by the coordinator, the work of the group will be presented, and some of the lessons we have learned pointed out.

The need for coordinating research

Research after a disaster is ethically challenging. When involving disaster survivors in research, there may be an increased risk of emotional stress, although, at least in the field of psychotraumatology, the benefits for participants outweigh the negative effects when the researchers are properly trained, and the research design is methodologically and ethically sound (Newman & Kaloupek, 2009; Omerov, Steineck, Dyregrov, Runeson, & Nyberg, 2013). …

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