198071 Public health practice vs research: Implications for preparedness and disaster research review by state health department IRBs

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

David Perlman, PhD , Mayes College of Healthcare Business and Policy, University of the Sciences, Philadelphia, PA
Under the current US system for research involving human subjects, research is defined in terms of several key concepts: intent, systematic investigation, and generalizability. If an investigator engages in a systematic investigation designed or intended to contribute to generalizable knowledge, then he or she is engaged in research. If that research involves living individuals and the investigator will either interact or intervene with people or obtain their identifiable personal information, then it must be prospectively reviewed by an institutional review board (IRB), a federally mandated committee that ensures the ethical and regulatory appropriateness of proposed research. In public health institutions, and especially at state departments of health, this definition of research may prove vexing for determining when particular public health activities must be reviewed by IRBs. Several reasons for such vexation and 2 key responses from major public health stakeholders are outlined. In the current climate of public health preparedness initiatives at state health departments for disasters and bioterrorism, how research is defined vis-a-vis public health interventions may add even more confusion to preparedness initiatives and pose difficulties in determining when IRB review and the added protections it affords are appropriate. Several practical ways to avoid confusion will be discussed to strike a balance between the need for expeditious approvals of research-based responses to public health disasters and to ensure proper protections for human subjects at state health departments.

Learning Objectives:
Identify key differences between research and public health practice that would necessitate IRB review Differentiate between public health activities during disasters or emergencies that are research-based or practice-based and would require IRB review and oversight Evaluate current and future regulatory and ethical mechanisms for addressing the differences between public health practice and research

Keywords: Research, Practice

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: This work has been recently published in the journal Disaster Medicine and Public Health Preparedness and I have spoken on this topic at several educational conferences on bioethics. The larger public health community would also benefit from the presentation.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.

See more of: Ethics SPIG Round Table
See more of: Ethics SPIG