A balance between the risks and the potential benefits of research determine the level of review an Research Ethics Board (REB) may require. Full REB Review is the default for research with human participants. Where REB has procedures documented for minimal risk research, delegated review may be used. Minimal risk means “research in which the probability and magnitude of possible harms implied by participation in the research are no greater than those encountered by participants in those aspects of their everyday life that relate to the research” (TCPS 2, 2022). If the application does not meet the criteria for delegated review, it will be reviewed by the REB at a Full Board REB meeting.
Island Health REBs follow a proportionate approach to research ethics review. This means the lower the risk, the lower the level of scrutiny (full board review). The higher the risk, the higher the level of review (full board review). Proportional approaches assess the ethical acceptability of the research and considerations of the foreseeable risks, the potential benefits, and the ethical implications of the research.
Examples of categories of research that may be delegated for research ethics review include:
- Research that is confidently expected to involve minimal risk;
- Minimal risk changes to approved research;
- Annual renewals of approved minimal risk research;
- Annual renewals of above minimal risk research where the research will no longer involve new interventions to current participants, renewal does not involve the recruitment of new participants, and the remaining research activities are limited to data analysis.