89 is the number of people with whom we have been in touch about the research ethics and governance approvals for our study. The estimate is conservative. It excludes 7 types of individuals.
The study has not been controversial. In fact, an R&D officer called it ‘low key’ in terms of the ethical and governance issues it raised. The system is exceptionally complicated. Even if you use it, you don’t realise how complicated it is.
It was only because we tried to save paper that we saw more clearly into it. We chose not to print the emails for the study ethics and governance approvals. We summarised them in a table for the study Master File. This was the beginning of a case study on the processes of obtaining NHS research ethics and governance approvals.
Relative to our observations, the newly introduced system of HRA (Health Research Authority) Approval will not significantly change that. More needs to change.
Read more in the full paper: Petrova M and Barclay S (2019) Research approvals iceberg: how a ‘low-key’ study in England needed 89 professionals to approve it and how we can do better. BMC Medical Ethics, 20:7. doi: 10.1186/s12910-018-0339-5
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