groups » Research Ethics » Self-Assessment Tool for Research Ethics Committees in Developing Countries

Hi Everyone:

I would like to make everyone aware of a self-assessment tool for research ethics committees (RECs) in the developing world. The Middle East Research Ethics Training Initiative (MERETI - coordinated the development of this tool and it involved several individuals from the Middle East (Sleem H, Development of an Accessible Self-Assessment Tool For Research Ethics Committees in Developing Countries. Journal of Empirical Research on Human Research Ethics. 2010; 85-96).

The development of this tool was motivated by the concern that many RECs are being established, but there is presently no mechanism to evaluate their operations and function. Absent an accreditation process, a self-assessment mechanism would provide RECs a way to review their policies and processes against recognized international standards. This tool reflects pragmatic aspects of human subjects protection, is based on international standards, is straightforward in its completion, and its items are relevant to the administrative processes that exist in many RECs in the developing world. Each question is given a point value and the total number of points achievable is 200.

To provide benchmarking data, we conducted a study in which RECs from 3 different regions (Egypt, South Africa, and India) completed the self-assessment tool. The results for these 3 regions were presented at the recent meeting of the International Association of Bioethics held in Rotterdam, June, 2012. The aggregate mean score for all three regions was 135.7 (SD = 35.6). Individual means scores for the three different countries were 126.4, 132.5, and 155.4.

To access the self-assessment tool, one can go to our MERETI website at and click on "self-assessment tool" at the top menu bar and then one can follow the directions in the attached file. After completing the tool, RECs can obtain the score immediately after submission, compare their scores with the data regarding the percentile rank of scores, and also obtain feedback on individual questions. One of the main uses of this tool is that RECs can use the results to develop their own quality improvement programs.

Please have your RECs use the tool and give us feedback on your thoughts about its use.
Thanks for listening,

Henry Silverman, MD, MA
Professor of Medicine, University of Maryland
Program Director - MERETI



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