A new emergency review tool to help research ethics review during public health emergencies

June 7, 2010, Canadian Medical Association Journal

A new emergency review tool will help research ethics boards and institutions to expedite research while respecting the procedures of ethics reviews, states an article in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal).

Pandemic (H1N1) 2009, which focused international attention on for public health threats, highlighted the need for timely research. However, there are challenges to combining speed and flexibility with intense scrutiny in conventional research ethics reviews. The (WHO) recently held a special technical consultation on research ethics in infectious disease outbreaks following international requests for guidance from research ethics committees.

"We propose a new framework to guide departures from normal research ethics review during emergencies," writes Catherine Tansey, University Health Network, Toronto General Hospital, with her coauthors. "It will be a combination of increased diligence with enhanced procedural flexibility in proportion to risks and circumstances."

The authors conclude that the emergency review may also be a useful model to improve procedures in research ethics review.

More information: www.cmaj.ca/cgi/doi/10.1503/cmaj.090976

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