Applying for ethical approval for a national multisite study: The challenges and barriers
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This paper describes the challenges and barriers experienced when seeking Human Research Ethics approval for a national multisite qualitative research study. Applications for ethics approval were submitted to Human Research Ethics Committees (HRECs) across four Australian states in November 2010. Three out of the five HREC applications required alterations. None of the HRECs acknowledged approvals from the other HRECs. The authors found there was a lack of appreciation and knowledge of qualitative research and, in particular, the phenomenological methodological approach whereby HRECs attempted to quantify the qualitative research methodology. The issues encountered created complexities for the researchers and delayed the commencement of the study. Our experience suggests that multisite studies are unduly delayed due to current HRECs methods of review. HRECs need to address the efficiency of their ethics approval practices through harmonising multisite ethical review processes enabling the recognition of a single ethics and scientific review with mandatory expedition to all subsequent HRECs.
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