A capacity development framework for research ethics committee administrators
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University of the Free State, South Africa
Publication date: 2023-04-27
Popul. Med. 2023;5(Supplement):A662
Background and Objectives: Little research has been done on research ethics committee administrators’ capacity development, leading to a lack of uniform requirements for this role, and few training opportunities. The role may be related to administration, but it is integral to the smooth running of research ethics committees that oversee global health and scientific research studies. This study proposed and validated a capacity development framework for research ethics administrators in South Africa using a Delphi survey on ethics experts to reach a consensus. Methods: The Delphi method was applied among research ethics experts from South Africa and abroad through an anonymous online questionnaire. Results: In total, 23 experts were approached to participate in the study, with 12 and 13 experts responding and participating in the two Delphi Survey rounds, respectively. The results of the second round showed that 67% of the experts confirmed that administrators require basic, entry-level training at the level of a Bachelor’s degree to be able to fulfill their duties. Nearly 83% of the experts confirmed ‘REC administrator’ as the appropriate title for this profession. Conclusions: A capacity development framework was designed focusing on the following aspects: training, standard operating procedures, infrastructural upgrades, administrative systems, harmonising procedures, and improving information sharing in order to better capacitate administrators. Research ethics administrators need to be capacitated in various ways, comparable to the training received by committee members who review studies so that they are better placed to operate in and respond to the rapidly developing world of global health, research, and research ethics review.