Harmonization of Research Ethics Review Having a Positive Impact on BC Research

14 December 2016

BC’s efforts to harmonize the health research ethics review process is having a positive impact on making BC a more attractive research environment.

This is according to a Summative Evaluation of Phase II of the BC Ethics Harmonization Initiative (BCEHI) which found that the initiative has successfully developed and implemented processes that improve the speed and efficiency of ethics reviews for both minimal risk and above minimal risk studies.

The BCEHI is a collaboration between the provincial health authorities and BC’s four major universities, who collectively conduct more than 80 percent of the province’s human subject ethics reviews. The initiative, which was funded and facilitated by the Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research (MSFHR) up to March 31, 2016, aims to create efficient, coordinated, and high-quality processes that support and encourage multi-jurisdictional human health research.

The evaluation identified a range of successes, from widespread acceptance of the new process due to the grassroots approach, to improved communication and collaboration between institutions, and a reduction in the duplication of efforts, particularly for researchers. Evaluation findings also revealed that the majority of researchers who submitted applications for harmonized ethics review had an overall positive experience.

In addition to these accomplishments the evaluation identified some opportunities for development, including improved communication with the research community about the harmonization process and the need for a common technology platform to support harmonized reviews. To support these developments, and provide a bridge to sustainability, MSFHR has funded a one-year BCEHI Project Coordination function and is supporting the development of a shared technology platform.

Read the BCEHI Summative Evaluation.