The Institutional Review Board (IRB) exists to ensure the ethical treatment and rights of human participants in research studies. Its goal is to safeguard human subjects’ rights, welfare, and well-being, balancing the pursuit of knowledge with the dignity and autonomy of individuals involved in the research.
Components to Determine if IRB Submission is Needed:
1. Human Participants: If your research involves human subjects in any capacity, be it through interviews, surveys, or direct interventions, IRB oversight is generally necessary.
2. Data Privacy: If personally identifiable information is collected where participants can be identified directly or through identifiers linked to them, an IRB review becomes necessary.
3. Physical Procedures: Involvement in procedures like medical examinations, sample collection, or drug administration typically requires IRB oversight.
4. Psychological Stress or Harm: Studies that might introduce emotional, psychological, or social stress to participants often need IRB approval.
5. Vulnerable Populations: Projects involving children, prisoners, pregnant women, or other vulnerable groups usually undergo stricter scrutiny and demand IRB review.
6. Risk and Benefits Assessment
: Any research that poses more than minimal risk to participants—i.e., beyond the risks of daily life—will typically need a review.
Example from Literature Review:
In the article by Cima et al. (2011) titled “Use of Lean and Six Sigma Methodology to improve operating room efficiency,” the researchers conducted direct observations in the operating room. They interacted with the healthcare staff to assess and improve efficiency.
Reason for IRB Approval:
Human Participants: The study involved human subjects as they directly observed the activities and procedures conducted by the operating room staff. This observation could have influenced the behavior of the staff, introducing a form of intervention.
Data Privacy: Observations made in the operating room could have collected information that could lead back to specific patients or healthcare providers if not correctly made anonymously.
Physical and Psychological Stress: Any change or observation in a high-stress environment, like an operating room, can introduce potential risks or alter routines, leading to psychological or emotional stress for the staff involved.
Given the above factors, IRB approval was essential to ensure the ethical conduct of the study, protect the privacy of the staff and patients, and ensure the validity of the data collected.
· Cima, R. R., et al. (2011). Use of Lean and Six Sigma methodology to improve operating room efficiency.
Journal of the American College of Surgeons, 213(1), 83-92.
Because of the unethical treatment of human subjects in the past such as unethical Nazi research and the Tuskeegee Airmen, much has been done to ensure the protection of subjects involved in research (Barrow, et al, 2022). There are multiple aspects to look at when determining if a study should go before a review board. Things to consider are: data obtained that is identifiable or private, is the data obtained as part of a classroom exercise or to be used outside of the class, the data is derived from living individuals, and will the data contribute to the body of knowledge publicly.
One article that I used was Cernelic-Bizjak et al, (2022) who was studying the effect of the Pandemic and Nursing Education outcomes. This study was a primary study who surveyed the data from thousands of nursing students across multiple schools in an effort to obtain data. IRB approval was submitted due to the inclusion of a large quantity of individuals that was not limited to a single classroom or program. Information that was sought after was not publicly available and was to be obtained by interacting with thousands of subjects. Also, the data derived from the study was to be used for the benefit outside of a single organization and for the greater knowledge.
Barrow JM, Brannan GD, Khandhar PB (2022). Research ethics.
StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing. Available from:
Cernelic-Bizjak, M & Dolenc, P. (2022) Relationship between nursing students’ attitudes toward nursing profession and online learning satisfaction during COVID-19 lockown.
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