223371 Institutional Review Boards as Guardians of Social Justice in Health Research

Monday, November 8, 2010 : 8:30 AM - 8:50 AM

Patricia M. Alt, PhD , Department of Health Science, Towson University, Towson, MD
Increasing quantities of research in America are being done outside academic institutions, often funded by private sources (i.e. drug companies), and a growing percentage of that research is reviewed by private for-profit review boards. This creates new pressures on the human subjects research protection process. The lines between “treatment” and “research” have blurred as more research is being done in offices, clinics, public agencies, and schools, not just in large academic medical research settings. This presentation examines pressures on Institutional Review Board members reviewing human subjects research which might lead them to allow inadequate protocols to go forward. For instance, is a medical institution's IRB under more pressure to approve research and preserve the institution's research funding than a for-profit IRB seeking to keep researchers coming back for positive and quick reviews? Key elements are: understanding the type and degree of pressure IRB members feel to scrutinize research differently in varying circumstances; how that shapes the IRBs' processes; and possible ways to reduce the likelihood of ethical flaws. While there have been studies done of conflicts of interest affecting particular types of IRBs and/or their members, very little has been done comparing the views of IRB members across the various kinds of IRB, and taking into account the IRB members' own characteristics (professional training, gender, race, & ethnicity). Through an anonymous online survey of a nationwide sample of IRBs, this project begins to develop a picture of the current situation, from which potential remedies can be proposed.

Learning Areas:
Conduct evaluation related to programs, research, and other areas of practice
Ethics, professional and legal requirements
Public health or related research
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Describe pressures which IRB members identify as influencing research reviews Compare the responses from members of differing types of IRBs Analyze the potential impact on human research subjects of variations in IRB reviews

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have done the research entirely myself.
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.