Africa is increasingly becoming an important region for health research, mainly due to its heavy burden of disease, socioeconomic challenges, and inadequate health facilities. Regulatory capacities, in terms of ethical review processes, are also generally weak. The ethical assessment of social and behavioral research is relatively neglected compared to the review of biomedical and clinical studies, which led us to develop an ethics review assessment tool for use in the review of social and behavioral research in Ethiopia, which could potentially be of value in low- and middle-income settings.
Initially, we did a comprehensive literature review on principles, guidelines, and practices of research ethics, on social and behavioral studies, from which we extracted query terms to explore the opinions of selected key informants and focus groups in Ethiopia. The discussants and informants were selected using a convenience sampling method to evaluate an ethics review template, which integrated issues that commonly arise in social and behavioral studies. Finally, we directly solicited opinions from the discussants about the desirability, feasibility, acceptability, and relevance of the ethics review assessment tool and used the resulting data to refine our initial draft.
Results and conclusion:
Although the same basic ethics principles govern all research studies, social and behavioral research have some disciplinary particularities that may require reviewers to exercise a different orientation of ethical attention in some cases. Using a qualitative approach, we developed a review assessment tool that could potentially be useful to raise awareness, focus attention, and strengthen the review of social and behavioral studies by ethics review committees, particularly in settings without a long-standing tradition of reviewing such research. This process also exposed some areas where further capacity building and discussion of ethical issues may be necessary among stakeholders in the review of social and behavioral research.
Behavioral, social, qualitative, biomedical research, ethics review, low and middle income
Liya Wassie, Senkenesh Gebre-Mariam, Geremew Terekegne et al. (2019) Enhancing ethics review of social and behavioural research: Developing a review template in Ethiopia. Research Ethics 15(4) 1–23.
Publisher (Open Access): https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/1747016119865731