Ethical review of health service research in the UK: implications for nursing
Version of Record online: 4 NOV 2002
Journal of Advanced Nursing
Volume 40, Issue 4, pages 379–386, November 2002
How to Cite
Tod, A.M., Nicolson, P. and Allmark, P. (2002), Ethical review of health service research in the UK: implications for nursing. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 40: 379–386. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-2648.2002.02385.x
- Issue online: 4 NOV 2002
- Version of Record online: 4 NOV 2002
- Submitted for publication 6 March 2002 Accepted for publication 30 July 2002
- research ethics committees;
- health services;
Background. This paper examines the current systems and structures for ethical review of health services research in the United Kingdom (UK). Past criticisms and the adequacy of recent governance arrangements for Ethics Committees in addressing these are discussed. The implications for nurses are then considered.
Rationale. This examination of the situation is prompted by the demand for more innovative research designs in health care evaluation, new regulations and guidance, and a climate of public anxiety regarding research conduct in the UK.
Findings. The evolution of Research Ethics Committees (RECs) has been slow and resulted in a lack in consistency. Criticisms made of RECs can be categorized into four main areas. New governance arrangements for RECs have emerged as potential solutions to these criticisms. This review identifies the limitations of the new governance arrangements in addressing past criticisms because of two factors. The first is insufficient funding. The second is confusion about the confidentiality and consent requirements of clinicians working in areas where research is conducted and on whom recruitment processes often rely. The current situation regarding health research ethical review has implications for nurses, whether they are working as researchers, members of Ethics Committees or clinicians where research is conducted.
Conclusion. The new governance arrangements may go some way to addressing past problems. However, investment in RECs is required. It is also important to realize that maintaining ethical probity in health service research is a tripartite concern. It is reliant as it is on the actions of Ethics Committees and clinical research partners as well as those of the researchers themselves.