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Sensitive or disturbing study content

Sensitive and disturbing content is acceptable on Prolific but we ask researchers to provide advanced warning ahead of a study. However, we understand that for some participants, it can often bring up complex feelings that need to be addressed afterward. 

What is sensitive or disturbing content?


Disturbing or explicit content includes anything shown to participants that is graphic, violent, sexual, or egregious.

Disturbing or explicit content can come in many forms: text, such as derogatory words; images and videos, such as sexually explicit content; and audio, such as profanity.

While sensitive content includes discussions about personal topics or issues that some might find upsetting, the format might be different for every study. Common examples are asking questions or presenting scenarios about health, trauma, or other topics that could upset participants.

Sensitive content includes discussions revolving around deeply personal topics or potentially distressing issues. Sensitive content can also come in various forms: typical approaches involve asking questions or presenting scenarios related to health, trauma, or other potentially upsetting subjects.

How to spot studies with sensitive or disturbing content


Researchers add content warnings to studies that will include sensitive topics or exposure to disturbing or explicit content. You will see the content warning on studies like this on your study details page:

Sensitive study warning label.png

Researchers should also include additional details about the exact nature of the potentially triggering content of their study in the description field, therefore we recommend you read this carefully, too.

If you feel comfortable, you can go ahead and reserve a spot and take the study. If you reserved a spot before considering the content warning, don’t worry. You can cancel your reservation by returning the study. This won’t have any negative consequences to your Prolific account.

Help resources


If you’ve been affected by something that you’ve read or you’ve been triggered by content in a study, here are some resources for those based in the UK, US and Australia that may help.

UK US Australia
UK

UK suicide prevention support

Samaritans

https://www.samaritans.org/

Free, non-judgemental support by phone, online or letter.

NHS

https://www.nhs.uk/mental-health/feelings-symptoms-behaviours/behaviours/help-for-suicidal-thoughts/

Where to get help from the National Health Service if you are having suicidal thoughts, and what to do if you are worried about someone else.

Papyrus UK | Suicide Prevention Charity

https://www.papyrus-uk.org/

A UK charity for the prevention of young suicide (under 35) in the UK.

UK Anti-Racism Support

The Red Card

https://www.theredcard.org/

The UK’s leading anti-racism educational charity.

StopHate UK

https://www.stophateuk.org/

Stop Hate UK is a leading national organisation working to challenge all forms of Hate Crime and discrimination, based on any aspect of an individual’s identity.

Runnymeade Trust

https://www.runnymedetrust.org/

The UK’s leading race equality think tank, evidence-based interventions to overcome racial inequality.

UK Bereavement Support

At A Loss

https://www.ataloss.org/

Cruse

https://www.cruse.org.uk/

Provides one-to-one and other support to the bereaved organised through local branches - find your local branch number on the website.

BEAD Project

https://www.beadproject.org.uk/

For those bereaved through alcohol or drugs.

UK Domestic Abuse Support

Rise

https://www.riseuk.org.uk/

Independent charity and refuge for those experiencing domestic abuse.

National Domestic Abuse Helpline

https://www.nationaldahelpline.org.uk/

Support led by women trained to assist those experiencing domestic abuse.

Victim Support

https://www.victimsupport.org.uk/

Help for those that are victims of crime; Victim Support can also help with those experiencing domestic abuse.

UK Sexual Abuse Support

Rape Crisis

https://rapecrisis.org.uk/get-help/want-to-talk/

For those currently in crisis and in need of immediate help.

SARSAS

https://www.sarsas.org.uk/

Support for people affected by rape or any kind of sexual assault or abuse at any time in their lives. The Survivors Trust

https://www.thesurvivorstrust.org/

National umbrella organisation for specialist rape and sexual abuse support services.

UK Addiction Support

Talk to Frank

https://www.talktofrank.com/

Information and advice about drugs and addiction.

GamStop

https://www.gamstop.co.uk/

The UK’s self-exclusion scheme for gambling addiction.

Alcohol Change UK

https://alcoholchange.org.uk/help-and-support/get-help-now

Support for alcohol addiction and those in recovery.

UK Debt Support

Step Change

https://www.stepchange.org/

The UK's leading debt charity to get expert debt advice and fee-free debt management to help you tackle your debts.

National Debtline

https://nationaldebtline.org/

Advice on managing debts, eviction support and budgeting.

Citizens Advice

https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/debt-and-money/help-with-debt/

Support with managing debts and organising your finances.

If you’ve come across something concerning in a study that you believe to be abusive, ethically or legally problematic, please contact our participant support team with the name of the study and researcher, and as much information as you feel able to provide: Participant Support Request Form.

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