Education And Debate

Research ethics committees deserve support

BMJ 2005; 330 doi: (Published 24 February 2005) Cite this as: BMJ 2005;330:472
  1. John Alexander (, chair1
  1. 1 South West Multicentre Research Ethics Committee, Lescaze Offices, Dartington TQ9 6JE

    I agree with Wade that audit and certain kinds of research have similarities in purpose, structure, and ethics and that audit is not reviewed within the same strict ethical guidelines.1 However, this does not indicate that “research and audit cannot be distinguished.” The definitions and differences have been published.2 3 Audit and research surveys raise similar issues regarding validity, confidentiality, inconvenience, and the revelation of unacceptable practice, but the potential ethical problems are less than for, say, trials of medicines. Both audit and surveys merit a thorough but possibly truncated review.

    Who should decide?

    Wade says that the decision of an …

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