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Investigative interviewers' perceptions of their difficulty in adhering to open-ended questions with child witnesses
journal contributionposted on 2006-01-01, 00:00 authored by R Wright, Martine Powell
Best practice guidelines for conducting investigative interviews of children emphasise the importance of obtaining free narrative accounts with the use of open-ended questions. However, research indicates that most investigative interviewers underutilise open-ended questions, even following intensive training in their use. The aim of the current study was to explore investigative interviewers' perceptions of their difficulty in asking open-ended questions. During a training course on how to use open-ended questions, eight child abuse investigators were individually interviewed about why they had asked specific questions in a 10-minute mock interview conducted immediately earlier with a school child. Overall, three reasons were identified. These related to: 1. the specificity of the information required from children; 2. the unfamiliar nature of the open-ended discourse style; and 3. the complex distinction between open-ended versus specific questions. Each of these themes is discussed, along with the implications for trainers and researchers in child investigative interviewing.