A Qualitative Study of Non-Affiliated, Non-Scientist Institutional Review Board Members
Anderson, Emily E.
Accountability in Research 2006 April-June; 13(2): 135-155
In addition to outlining criteria for the approval of human subjects research, federal regulations provide guidance regarding local institutional review boards (IRB) membership. IRBs are mandated to include "at least one member whose primary concerns are in nonscientific areas" and "at least one member who is not otherwise affiliated with the institution." Often a single individual serves both of these roles simultaneously. Although there have been calls for increased representation of lay community members in IRBs, little is known regarding their experiences or their perceptions of human subject protections and the IRB process. Using an ethnographic interview approach, this study seeks to gain a perspective from non-affiliated, non-scientist (NA/NS) IRB members about the process in which they participated. Findings suggest a need for clarification regarding whom NA/NS IRB members represent. They also suggest that NA/NS IRB members' experiences could be improved by an increased show of respect from the IRB chair, other members, and staff; efforts to make participation more convenient for these volunteer members; and training tailored specifically to NA/NS members. Further research on this important and understudied topic is needed to determine best practice and policy recommendations.
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