Ethics review is important, but can be overly onerous for it purpose. The authors propose that adoption of a utilitarian view, aligning purpose and goal, can enable a leaner process.
It goes without saying that any research involving human subjects must respect and protect those involved. The Helsinki Declaration provides clear guidance for this foundational stance. As societies, we have therefore decided that all research involving human participants must be evaluated for its ethical soundness, a decision that has led to the creation and proliferation of institutional review boards (IRBs). As the authors of this commentary, we subscribe wholeheartedly to the use of IRBs. The processes around IRB approval, however, increasingly raise questions that we will attempt to address. In doing so, we realise that the discussion is not new. Brice et al., for example, wrote about this over 10 years ago and explained that an unabbreviated copying of the IRB process from biomedical and clinical research to medical education research and from one country and culture to another is probably not advisable.1 However, there seems to have been little further development since.
- Health Professions