AJOB Empirical Bioethics | VOL. ahead-of-print
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Institutional Review Board Use of Outside Experts: A National Survey

Publication Date Jun 15, 2022

Abstract

Background Institutional review board (IRB) expertise is necessarily limited by maintaining a manageable board size. IRBs are therefore permitted by regulation to rely on outside experts for review. However, little is known about whether, when, why, and how IRBs use outside experts. Methods We conducted a national survey of U.S. IRBs to characterize utilization of outside experts. Our study uses a descriptive, cross-sectional design to understand how IRBs engage with such experts and to identify areas where outside expertise is most frequently requested. Results The survey response rate was 18.4%, with 55.4% of respondents reporting their institution’s IRB uses outside experts. Nearly all respondents who reported using outside experts indicated they do so less than once a month, but occasionally each year (95%). The most common method of identifying an outside expert was securing a previously known subject matter expert (83.3%). Most frequently, respondents sought consultation for scientific expertise not held by current members (69.6%). Almost all respondents whose IRBs had used outside experts reported an overall positive impact on the IRB review process (91.5%). Conclusions Just over half of the IRBs in our sample report use of outside experts; among them, outside experts were described as helpful, but their use was infrequent overall. Many IRBs report not relying on outside experts at all. This raises important questions about what type of engagement with outside experts should be viewed as optimal to promote the...

Concepts

Institutional Review Board Institutional Review Board Review Process Institutional Review Board Review Community Advisory Board Subject Matter Expert Expert Review Current Members Community Perspectives Board Expertise National Survey

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