Education And Debate

The other face of research governance

BMJ 2004; 329 doi: (Published 29 July 2004) Cite this as: BMJ 2004;329:280
  1. Alysun M Jones, consultant clinical psychologist (,
  2. Bryony Bamford, assistant clinical psychologist2
  1. 1 Specialist Treatment for Eating Problems Unit, Southmead Hospital, Bristol BS10 5NB
  2. 2 Somerset Partnership NHS and Social Care Trust, Broadway House, Bridgwater, Somerset TA6 5YA
  1. Correspondence to: A M Jones
  • Accepted 2 June 2004

After inadvertently making an unauthorised protocol deviation, two researchers were left with a weakened study and feeling disillusioned


Research governance is designed to ensure that “health and social care research is conducted to high scientific and ethical standards.”1 Currently the same process is applied to all breaches, regardless of their severity or likely implications. Although we do not deny the importance and relevance of research governance, our experience leads us to question how it is applied.

What we did

Our project, funded through a small grant from the trust, explored the effect of several variables on outcome in a day therapy service for eating disorders. Our outcome measures comprised several questionnaires administered at three monthly intervals to clients with eating disorders. As a result of advice from our project steering group (a necessary requirement for such projects), we agreed to introduce a simple qualitative measure to balance the fact that our original protocol used only quantitative measures. We used an interview based on a standard questionnaire (the Morgan and Russell scale2) but adapted to form a semistructured interview covering quality of life areas such as social contacts, relationships, family, …

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