Ethics review in research

BMJ 2004; 328 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.328.7441.711 (Published 18 March 2004) Cite this as: BMJ 2004;328:711

Time has come for reassessment

  1. Martin McKee, professor of European public health (martin.mckee{at}lshtm.ac.uk)
  1. London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, London WC1E 7HT

    EDITOR—Glasziou and Chalmers are to be congratulated for their stand on the important issue of ethics review.1 For many years MSc students in this school undertook projects considering policy questions facing local trusts and health authorities. These typically entailed a literature review and interviews with managers, clinicians, and other relevant stakeholders. These interviewees are now deemed research subjects, thus requiring each student to obtain ethics approval.

    The lengthy process of getting approval has forced us to advise students to abandon this model of research, concentrating instead on desk based studies. The links forged with the key stakeholders meant that many of these projects led to improvements in the care provided, and it is far from clear, at least to me, that this development has increased the total sum of human welfare.


    • Competing interests None declared.


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