Douglas R Wassenaar

Douglas R Wassenaar


Discipline Psychology
Contact Number 033-260-5373
Campus Pietermaritzburg Campus
Office Address Room 52 Psychology Building Golf Road
Last Updated 2 years ago

Degrees Held

  • BA (Hons),
  • MA (Clin Psych) (Cum Laude)
  • PhD
  • Registered Clinical Psychologist

 Research Interests

  • Research Ethics
  • Suicidology
  • Eating Disorders

Teaching Interests

  • Research Ethics
  • Suicidology
  • Eating Disorders



  • Steyn, J. (2013). Assignment Writing. Pretoria: Van Schaik Publishers. (ISBN: 978-0-627-03129-8)

Journal Articles

Books & Chapters in Books

  • IJsselmuiden, C., Kasule, M., Wassenaar, D.R., Moipolai-Mokgatla, B. (Accepted, in press 2015). Improving review quality and efficiency of research ethics committees to enhance evidence based public health practice in Africa. In D.H. Barrett et al., (Eds.) Chapter in US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Public Health Research Casebook. Atlanta: Springer.
  • Singh, N., & Wassenaar, D.R. (2014). Development of an online research ethics training resource specific to South African Health law and guidance: A UKZN-MEPI funded project. In S. Zvacek, M. T Restivo, J. Uhomibhi, & M. C. Heifert (Eds.), Proceedings of CSEDU 2014, 6th International conference on Computer Supported Education (pp. 24-30). Barcelona: Scitepress.
  • Mutenherwa F., & Wassenaar, D.R. (2014). Ethical review of social and behavioural research in an African context. In M. Kruger, P Ndebele & L Horn (Eds.) Research Ethics in Africa: A Resource for Research Ethics Committees, (pp. 117-124). Stellenbosch: Stellenbosch University Press.
  • Mokgatla-Moipolai, B., IJsselmuiden, C., & Wassenaar, D.R. (2014). MARC (Mapping African research ethics review) project. In M. Kruger, P Ndebele & L Horn (Eds.) Research Ethics in Africa: A Resource for Research Ethics Committees (pp. 11-20)Stellenbosch: Stellenbosch University Press.
  • Wassenaar, D.R., & Mamotte, N. (2012). Ethical issues and ethics reviews in social science research. In M. Leach, M. Stevens, G. Lindsay, A. Ferrero, & Y. Korkut (Eds.) The Oxford handbook of international psychological ethics (pp. 268- 282). New York: Oxford.
  • Wassenaar, D.R., & IJsselmuiden, C.B. (2007). Obligations to participants harmed in the course of the N-9 multicenter vaginal microbicide trial in South Africa: Commentary 19.2: Was the N-9 trial ethical? Questions and lessons. In J. Lavery, C. Grady, E. Wahl & E. Emanuel (Eds.) Ethical issues in international biomedical research: A casebook (pp. 319-325)New York: Oxford.
  • Wassenaar, D.R. (2006). Ethical issues in social science research. In M. Terreblanche, K. Durrheim & D. Painter (Eds.) Research in practice (pp. 60-79), (2nd ed.). Cape Town: Juta.
  • Tredoux, C., Foster, D., Allan, A., Cohen, A., & Wassenaar, D.R. (Eds.) (2005) Psychology and law. Cape Town: Juta
  • Wassenaar, D.R., Pillay, A.L. Descoins, S., Goltman, M., & Naidoo, P. (2000). Patterns of suicide in Pietermaritzburg 1982-1996: Race, gender and seasonality. In Schlebusch, L., & Bosch, B. A. (Eds) (2000). Suicidal behaviour: 4 (pp. 97-111). Durban: University of Natal.
  • Pillay, A.L., Wassenaar, D.R., & Kramers, A.L. (2000). Gender differences in African patients presenting with non-fatal suicidal behaviour. In Schlebusch, L., & Bosch, B. A. (Eds.) (2000). Suicidal behaviour: 4 (pp.142-152). Durban: University of Natal.
  • Descoins, S., & Wassenaar, D.R. (2000). Meteorological variables and suicide in Pietermaritzburg 1988-1996. In Schlebusch, L., & Bosch, B. A. (Eds.) (2000). Suicidal behaviour: 4 (pp. 168-183). Durban: University of Natal.
  • Durrheim, K., & Wassenaar, D. R. (1999). Communicating design: Writing and evaluating research proposals. In M. Terre Blanche & K. Durrheim (Eds.), Research in practice: Applied methods for the social sciences. Cape Town: UCT Press.
  • Wassenaar, D.R., & Naidoo, P. (1995). Suicide in Pietermaritzburg: A comparison with South African Suicide data. In L. Schlebusch (Ed.) Suicidal behaviour 3. (pp. 172-187). Durban: University of Natal.
  • Wassenaar, D.R., Pillay, A.L., Burns, K.D., & Davies, M. (1993).Evaluation of suicide prevention in schools. In D. Lester (Ed.) Suicide ’93: Proceedings of the 26th Annual Conference of the American Association of Suicidology. (pp. 71-74). Denver: American Association of Suicidology.
  • Pillay, A.L., & Wassenaar, D.R. (1993). Intervention effects in adolescent suicidal behaviour. In D. Lester (Ed.) Suicide ’93: Proceedings of the 26th Annual Conference of the American Association of Suicidology. (pp.57-60) Denver: American Association of Suicidology.
  • Wassenaar, D.R. (1992). Ethical Issues in Counselling. In J. Uys (Ed.) Psychological counselling in the South African context. (pp. 49-68). Cape Town: Maskew Miller Longman.
  • Wassenaar, D.R., & Pillay, A.L. (1992). Psychosocial Intervention in Adolescent Parasuicide. In L. Schlebusch (Ed.) Suicidal behaviour 2. (pp. 208-211). Durban: University of Natal.
  • Wassenaar, D.R. (1991). Brief strategic family therapy and the management of adolescent parasuicide patients in the general hospital setting. In D. Lester (Ed.) Suicide ’91: Proceedings of the 24th Annual Meeting of the American Association of Suicidology. (pp. 30-32) Denver: American Association of Suicidology.
  • Pillay, A.L., & Wassenaar, D.R. Parasuicide in Indian South Africans. (1991). In D. Lester (Ed.) Suicide ’91: Proceedings of the 24th Annual Meeting of the American Association of Suicidology. (pp. 38-40). Denver: American Association of Suicidology.
  • Wassenaar, D.R. (1985) Current Issues in Crisis Intervention. In J. Carlile (Ed.) Update in psychiatric management. (pp. 102-105). Durban: University of Natal.
  • Steere, J., & Wassenaar, D.R. (1985) Ethical guidelines of clinical psychologists. Stellenbosch: Universiteits-Uitgevers.

Grants Awarded

  • 2014-2017: R 5,353,909.00 To enhance consent processes in HIV VaccineTrails through empirical research and resource development. Funder: Canadian HIV Vaccine Initiative. Role: PI (Succeeded Prof G C Lindegger (retired) as PI.
  • 2014: Supplementary award to SARETI from US NIH/Fogarty International Center to support African delegates to the 2014 Global Forum for Bioethics in Research, Mexico City. US $ 20,000.00. Role: PI and
  • 2012-2013 UK £ 19,000.00 Oxford University/Wellcome Trust funded international collaborative project: Stakeholder perspectives on Data Sharing. Role: South African subaward holder/ co-PI.
  • 2012-2017 US $ 1,250,000.00 South African Research Ethics Training Initiative. US NIH Fogarty International Center. Competitive renewal of SARETI Grant for Masters degree training programme in Health research Ethics. Role: PI. Co-PI: Prof M Kruger.
  • 2011 ZAR 188,427.00 NRF/Swiss Government Collaborative Grant to develop a TRREE training module on ethical issues in conducting HIV prevention research. Role: PI. Prof Dominique Sprumont, University of Neuchatel, Switzerland is Co-PI.
  • 2010-2015 $ 8,184,000.00 US National Institutes of Health, Fogarty International Center: “Enhancing Training, Research capacity and Expertise in HIV care (ENTRÉE). MEPI award. Role: Co-PI. Principal Investigator: Prof U Lalloo.
  • 2010-2011 £ 30,000.00 Wellcome Trust, UK. Grantholder WT092004MA: Prof D R Wassenaar. Small project grant for the study of voluntariness in research participation. Co-Applicants: Prof Q Abdool Karim and Ms N Mamotte.
  • 2010-2011: US $ 50,000.00 US National Institutes of Health/Fogarty International Center: R25TW001599-11S2. Grantholder: Prof D R Wassenaar SARETI/COHRED collaboration. and
  • 2011: US $ 78,250.00 R25TW001599-11S1. National Institutes of Health/Fogarty International Center: Grantholder: Prof D R Wassenaar. SARETI (South African Research Ethics Training Initiative). Bridging Funding for 2011.
  • 2010: £10,000,00 Wellcome Trust, UK. Grantholder: Prof D R Wassenaar. Grant to support supplementary delegates to attend the 2010 SARETI African Health Research Ethics Symposium II, Durban South Africa.
  • 2006-2010. US $ 950,000.00. Grantholder: Prof D R Wassenaar. Co-PI: Prof M Kruger. SARETI (South African Research Ethics Training Initiative). SARETI was a collaboration with the University of Pretoria and Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore. SARETI is a masters degree scholarship programme offering the first Masters degree in research ethics on the African continent. Competitive grant from US National Institutes of Health, Fogarty International Center. (First cycle, US $ 1 million, was from 2003-2006; I became principal grantholder in 2004, during our first funding cycle). We have enrolled 20 Masters students from 15 African countries to date. See
  • EDCTP 2009-2011: Attendance of African members of Research Ethics Committees of two SARETI modules on “Ethical Issues in HIV Vaccine Trials”, and “Institutionalising Research Ethics Committees”. € 50,000. Grantholder: D R Wassenaar.
  • SA Medical Research Council 2010-2011: ZAR 75900.00 Exploration of Compensation Policy and Practice in NIH sponsored HIV/AIDS Clinical Trials in Africa. Grantholder: Prof D R Wassenaar.
  • 2003-2009. US $252,000.00 cumulative from 2003. Grantholder: Prof D R Wassenaar. UNAIDS/World Health Organisation’s African AIDS Vaccines Programme: Ethics, Law and Human Rights Collaborating and Resource Centre (AAVP ELH). AAVP ELH undertakes research, training and consultations to facilitate the ethical conduct and development of HIV vaccine trials in Africa. Several publications, training workshops and consultations to date – see
  • 2009-2011: Euros: 345,000.00 COHRED/EDCTP African Ethics mapping Project: Grantholder: Prof C B IJsselmuiden, COHRED, Geneva. I was collaborator and co-applicant on this competitive award from the European Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership. This project employed a project officer to be based at UKZN Pmb after initial training in Geneva to identify and map, on an electronic, interactive self-updateable database, all Research Ethics Committees in African and all Research Ethics Resource Centres in Africa, to facilitate development, training and collaboration. This work builds on some of the work done by AAVP ELH mentioned in ‘2’ above. See
  • 2006: African Health Research Ethics Symposium (AHRES): £10,000.00 from the Wellcome Trust, UK. Grantholder: Prof D R Wassenaar. To supplement SARETI’s core funding to host the first African Health Research Ethics Symposium in Dakar, Senegal. This funding was to support the attendance of non SARETI-funded delegates to attend SARETI’s AHRES symposium in Dakar, Senegal. Additional delegates from Nigeria, Cameroon Senegal, the UK and the Netherlands attended this meeting at which all SARETI students presented their research work in research ethics.

Community Involvement

  • 2014: Invited presenter: Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health workshop on Ethics of Health Systems Research.
  • 2014: Collaborator on Wellcome Trust grant application: Jive Media Hip Hop Spaza project to run health research education youth projects. Funder decision pending.
  • 2013-2015: Associate Editor: Journal of Empirical Research on Human Research Ethics.
  • 2013-2014: Member: Interim Steering Committee; Global Forum for Bioethics in Research (GFBR) Funders: National Institutes of Health, Wellcome Trust, UK Medical Research Council.
  • 2013-2015: Invited Member: Provincial Research and Ethics Committee: Department of Health, Kwa-Zulu Natal.
  • 2013: External Evaluator (promotions committee); University of North Carolina: School of Medicine
  • 2011: External Evaluator (promotions committee); Johns Hopkins University: Bloomberg School of Public Health
  • 2011-2014: Member: World Health Organisation/UNAIDS Vaccine Advisory Committee.
  • 2010-2015: Member, Editorial Board: South African Journal of Psychology.
  • 2009: Invited attendee: Ethical and regulatory issues in HIV-preventive microbicide trials: International Partnership for Microbicides. Nairobi, Kenya, September.
  • 2009: Chair: Scientific Advisory Board, Ndlela HIV Research and Clinical Trials Unit, University of the Witwatersrand.
  • 2008-2011: First chairperson: International Public Engagement Awards Funding Committee, Wellcome Trust, UK.
  • 2005-2010: Member (2 terms): Biomedical Ethics Funding Committee: The Wellcome Trust, UK.
  • 2008: South African Medical Association: Member of invited South African expert panel to revise World Medical Association: Declaration of Helsinki, February.
  • 2008-2012: Member, International Scientific Advisory Board: World Health Organisation, Geneva: Mass cholera vaccination programme for Zanzibar.
  • 2008: World Health Organisation: Commissioned to conduct training retreat for Ethical Review Committee of the World Health Organisation: Geneva, March.
  • 2008-2011: Member: International Advisory Board: Health Research Ethics Training for Egypt and the Middle East. (Universities of Maryland and Cairo – see
  • 2007: World Health Organisation: Invited to facilitate workshops for Ethical Review Committee of the World Health Organisation: Geneva, October.
  • 2007-2008: member: International Steering Committee: Global Forum on Bioethics in Research funded by US NIH Fogarty International Center, UK Medical Research Council, Wellcome Trust, and INSERM (France). Contributed to planning of 2007 and 2008 Forums held in Lithuania and New Zealand respectively. See
  • 2006-2012: Member: International Advisory Committee: Training and Resources in Research Ethics for Africa (TRREE). Project Funded by European-Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership (EDCTP) and Swiss Institute for Medical Research. PI: Prof. D Sprumont, University of Neuchâtel, Switzerland. See
  • 2005-2009: Chair: Research Ethics Committee, Human Sciences Research Council. See
  • 2005: Consultant: Human Sciences Research Council: Revision of Research Ethics Guidelines, Policy, structures and functions.
  • 2005: Vice Chair: Research Ethics Committee, Human Sciences Research Council.
  • 2004-2005: Communication and Ethics Advisory Board: Kenyan Medical Research Institute (Wellcome Trust, KEMRI, Kilifi, Kenya)
  • 2004-2005: Member: International Advisory Committee: Networking for Bioethics in Medical Research (NEBRA). Paris: INSERM (Wellcome Trust & Medical Research Council, UK).
  • 2003-2010: Chair: World Health Organisation/UNAIDS African Aids Vaccine Programme: Ethics Law and Human Rights Working Group see
  • 2004-2008: Member: Advisory Board: West African Bioethics Program, University of Ibadan, Nigeria see
  • 2004-2008: Member: Advisory Board: University of Malawi & Michigan State University Fogarty Bioethics Scholarship programme. See
  • 2000-present: Consultant: HIV/AIDS Vaccines Ethics Group, School of Psychology, University of KwaZulu-Natal (Pmb.), and SA AIDS vaccine Initiative (SAAVI) of the SA Medical Research Council see

Teaching Expertise

  • Research Ethics
  • The SARETI programme is the first Masters degree programme in Research Ethics on the African continent (established in 2002). This externally funded programme was initially a collaboration between the Universities of KwaZulu-Natal (School of Psychology), Pretoria (School of Medicine) and Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore and is now under the aegis of the School of Applied Human Sciences, Discipline of Psychology, Pmb. It is based on three competitive grants (2002-2005; 2006-2010; 2011-2017) from the US National Institutes of Health, Fogarty International Center. I am the director of this ongoing programme, with Prof M Kruger, ED of Paediatrics at the University of Stellenbosch as Co-PI and Prof N J Mkhize (UKZN) as Deputy Co-PI, involving about 23 academic staff from various universities. To date we have enrolled, on a fully sponsored basis, 35 Masters students and 17 non-degree (coursework only) fellows from 15 African countries, with over 50 students taking selected modules for non-degree purposes. Several similar programmes have been funded since, notably in Malawi, Kenya, Mozambique, Nigeria, and Egypt, and because of the UKZN SARETI programme I serve on the International Advisory Boards of many of these newer programmes. We have recently published a report on the collective outputs of our programmes (Ndebele, Wassenaar et al, (2014) Journal of Empirical Research on Health Research Ethics9(2), 24-40. Collectively our graduates have produced over 50 peer-reviewed publications to date (see ) with others in progress. We have also secured additional funding for additional Masters students (2012-2014) through the UKZN AITRP through Professor Q Abdool Karim.
  • Psychopathology – Schizophrenia; Eating Disorders; Suicidology
  • Psychotherapeutics: Family therapy; Systemic therapies.





  • Anane Sarpong, E. Ethical issues in qualitative research: Perceptions of REC members in Ghana. (MPH, University of Pretoria, Faculty of Medicine, 2007).
  • Albertyn, C.G.N. An investigation into the relationship between family functioning, regimen adherence and metabolic control in adolescents and children with insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus. (Cum laude, 1991).
  • Allwood, C. Ethical dilemmas in hospital medical practice with HIV/AIDS. (20
  • Ancer, J. Borderline personality disorder in women and sexual victimization in childhood. (1994).
  • Appalsamy, P. (2003). The suicide processional model: Theory and validation.
  • Barnes, S. A study of help seeking, coping skills and suicide risk in male high school pupils. (2009).
  • Barry, T.A. Type A behaviour pattern and coronary heart disease in the South African Indian population. (Cum laude, 1992).
  • Biggs, T. An exploration of the relationship between attachment and eating disorder symptomatology. (1999).
  • Burns, K. Preventing suicidal behaviour amongst adolescents: Hospital admissions as a behavioural measure in analysing the effectiveness of a school-based programme. (1995).
  • Calder, L. A review of suicide research in South Africa. (2003).
  • Corbella, N. A study of social science researchers’ ethical dilemmas and experience of ethics review. (Cum Laude 2006).
  • Davies, M. Preventing suicidal behaviour amongst adolescents: A preliminary study utilizing adolescents’ attitudinal changes as a measure in analysing the effectiveness of a school-based parasuicide prevention programme. (1995).
  • de Mare, J. A study of patterns of rape as reported to a local rape crisis treatment centre. (2005)
  • Descoins, S. Epidemiological patterns in fatal suicidal behaviour: Pietermaritzburg 1986-1998. (2001).
  • du Plessis, J. Operationalizing the notion of sufficient maturity to provide informed consent when minors present for treatment. (2012)
  • du Plessis, E. A comparison of family impacts of HIV/Aids and Cancer (2002).
  • Earl, J.F. A study of medical compliance: the relationship between compliance with therapeutic regimens and emotional adjustment in South African Indian patients with non-insulin dependent diabetes mellitus. (1990).
  • Galloway, N.S. Non-specific effects in the preparation of clients for psychotherapy: A methodological contribution. (1985).
  • Greene, M. Psychosocial factors associated with recovery from mastectomy. (1994).
  • Hamilton, A. A study of the relationship between HIV CD4 counts and suicidal ideation. (2007)
  • Hare, A. An investigation of attributional style and suicidal behaviour. (1995).
  • Haynes, H. An investigation of the relationship between body image and culture: A pilot study. (1995).
  • Hodgson, N.A. Structural and strategic approaches in family therapy. (1984).
  • Isemann, S. An investigation of depression, self-esteem and body image in mastectomy patients, female cancer patients and a group of cancer-free women. (1994).
  • Jacobs, N. Becoming a self-harmer: A discourse analysis. (Cum Laude, 2011).
  • Jones, H. Psychological correlates of jealousy (2003).
  • Jorgensen, M. A pilot study of the relationship between eating disordered symptoms and early attachment. (2003).
  • Koen, J. The over-researched community: An exploration of stakeholder perceptions and analysis of normative guidelines. (Cum Laude 2011).
  • Kramers, A.L. Acculturation and disordered eating: An exploration of disordered eating practices across cultures. (Cum Laude) (2000).
  • Maharaj, K. A study of psychologists’ management of disclosure of HIV in psychotherapy practice.(2005)
  • Marais, D. Re-constructing the autonomous self: A feminist inquiry into gender and the autonomy ideal. (Cum Laude 2006).
  • Marais, D. Violence, care and justice: The relationship between exposure to violence and the moral orientations of Black men and women in South Africa (2009). (Summa Cum Laude)
  • Mbonile, L. Children’s and parents’/guardians’ understandings of rights, risks and benefits associated with research involving minors. MPH Thesis, University of Pretoria (2013).
  • McPherson, A. Schizophrenia in KwaZulu-Natal: A GIS survey of patients from the Midlands Hospital Complex, Pietermaritzburg. (1995).
  • Mitchell, B. A pilot study to validate the Eating Disorders Inventory on a South African student sample. (2003)
  • Nkwinika, T. (2008). Attitudes of university students towards euthanasia (Co-supervisor with V. O’Neill).
  • Nxasana, H. People living with HIV/AIDS and expressed emotion in Zulu South Africans: A pilot study. (2003).
  • Nyika, A. (2005). A study of the impact of relationships on women’s autonomy to participate in health research in Zimbabwe. MPH Thesis, SHSPH, University of Pretoria. (2005).
  • Peel, S. A study of informal breaches of confidentiality among a sample of South African Clinical, Counselling, and Educational psychologists, in the light of aspects of ethical education and of countertransference phenomena. (1998).
  • Peters, D. Attitude, coping and outcome in schizophrenia. (2000).
  • Phalane, T. (2007). A study of the ethical concerns and needs of African HIV vaccine researchers.
  • Potter, S. Schizophrenic rehospitalisation and expressed emotion in Zulu South Africans: A pilot study. (2001).
  • Pillay, D. Racial Differences in willingness to participate in HIV prevention clinical trials amongst University Students in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. MPH Thesis, UKZN, (2014).
  • Pillay, Y.G. Social class and schizophrenia: A critical appraisal of the literature. (1984).
  • Qwabe, B. A study of black doctors’ referral practices for psychological services. (2009)
  • Roche, E.L.D. An empirical study of the effects of marriage encounter. (1984)
  • Scott, R. Pilot study to improve cultural utility of the TAT in South Africa. (2008). Cum laude.
  • Skead, C. A press report study on the demographics of homicide suicide in South Africa: 2002-2009. (2010, Cum Laude).
  • Slack, C.M. Ethical dilemmas in clinical practice: A survey of clinical psychologists. (1997).
  • Soko, N. Legal, policy and institutional frameworks regarding research ethics committees in Zambia. (2011).
  • Stevenson, R. A forbidden zone: Sexual attraction in psychotherapy. (Cum Laude) (2000).
  • Styles, P. A study of psychologists’ perceptions of the insanity defense. (2005)
  • Thwala, J. Family structure, adolescent stress and coping. (1996).
  • Townsend, K. A study of murder-suicides in KwaZulu-Natal (2003).
  • Umeora, UOJ. (2009) (MPH University of Pretoria). Organizational structure and operations of research ethics committees in southeast Nigeria. With distinction.
  • Uys, D. A study of the effects of exercise on body satisfaction in young women. (1995).
  • Willows, C.N. Adolescence: A socio-cultural interpretation of the psychological process. (1986).
  • Wilford, A. Exploring the Diagnostic Ability of the ADOS in Special Needs Schools in the Greater eThekwini Area: A Blinded Study. (Co-supervisor, 2012).
  • Winship, J. Cross-cultural variation in disordered eating attitudes and behaviours: A study of female university students in KwaZulu-Natal. Women. (With distinction, 1996).
  • Wood, N. Some familial aspects of Indian parasuicides. (1987).
  • Zahoul, B. Prevalence of eating disturbances among South African University students: A cross-cultural comparison. (1996).


  • Pillay, Anthony (Co-Supervisor). Family dynamics and adolescent parasuicide: A South African Indian sample. University of Natal, (1989).
  • Silove, Melanie (Rhodes) Co-Supervisor) Ethical dilemmas and decision-making in the therapeutic space: A psychoanalytic view. Rhodes, (2003).
  • Ndebele, Paul. (Sole supervisor). A study of trial participants’ understanding and attitudes towards randomisation, double-blinding and placebo use, and a pilot intervention in a microbicide trial in Malawi. UKZN 2011.