Exemptions from Research Ethics Review

Some studies are exempt from REB review; determination of exemption is based on regulatory and institutional criteria. Information on exemptions is provided in Chapter 2 of the TCPS 2 (2018) and can be accessed via the following link: TCPS Articles 2.1-2.6. Researchers conducting a US federally-funded study should familiarize themselves with the US exemptions which can be accessed via the following link: 45 CFR 46.101.

Whether or not a project is exempt from ethical review is the decision of an institution REBs. Please seek the opinion of the Island Health Research Ethics & Compliance Office before initiating a project. 

Island Health REB will review or acknowledge research that has already been conducted.

Quality Improvement (QI)/ Quality Assurance (QA) and Program Evaluation Projects

The current TCPS 2 defines research as “an undertaking intended to extend knowledge through a disciplined inquiry or systematic investigation” and states that quality assurance studies, performance reviews, or testing within normal educational requirements do not normally require review, unless they include an element of research and the findings will be published or presented at a conference. TCPS 2, Article 2.5, further defines quality assurance studies as studies related directly to assessing the performance of an organization or its employees or students, within the mandate of the organization or according to the terms and conditions of employment or training.

Only research projects should be submitted for ethical review. Quality assurance projects and program evaluations are not considered research and do not require review by an REB. Intention to publish the findings does not determine whether something is research or quality assurance. 

QI Ethics

Although QI and QA projects and other non-research activities do not undergo a formal REB review, they still require appropriate organizational oversight. If you are undertaking a QI project at Island Health, please complete the QI Ethics decision-making support tool. The completion of this tool will connect you with the local QI Ethics team for guidance and support and will offer you a chance to share your project with others in the organization.