A case study of researchers’ knowledge and opinions about the ethical review process for research in Botswana

Dimpho Ralefala, Joseph Ali, Nancy Kass, Adnan Hyder

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Most countries, including Botswana, have established Institutional Review Boards (IRBs) to provide oversight of research involving human beings. Although much has been published on the structure and function of IRBs around the world, there is less literature that empirically describes the perspectives of stakeholders in low- and middle-income country (LMIC) settings regarding IRB processes. In this study, we employed primarily quantitative methods to examine the perceptions of researchers at the University of Botswana (UB) about the review of research protocols by local IRBs. Data were collected using a web-based survey (SurveyMonkey1). This was a preliminary effort to document some of the emerging experiences of researchers with ethics review in a context where both research and research oversight are relatively new. Findings from 85 researchers indicate that researchers recognized the need for an IRB to review all human research protocols, expressed the need for research ethics training, experienced high rates of approval at government ministries and UB, and generally believed that ethics review processes can help researchers themselves better understand and appreciate research ethics in general. Though only about one-quarter of respondents reported a more positive view of research ethics after interacting with the UB IRB, 56.5 percent reported no change. In contexts where IRBs have recently been established, it can be particularly important to document the perspectives of researchers in order to align expectations with capabilities, and identify areas where IRBs can improve operations. Future efforts to advance research ethics and ethical review in Botswana should include establishing research ethics training requirements and courses for researchers, increasing investment in IRBs and their training, further developing institutional and national research ethics policies, and formalizing agreements between IRBs and others involved in research oversight in the country to support coordinated review.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalResearch Ethics
Volume14
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2018

Keywords

  • Botswana
  • Ethical review
  • Institutional review board
  • Knowledge
  • Opinions
  • Research ethics committee

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Philosophy

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