Thursday, February 9, 2012

Organizations Choose Varying Approaches to Education

When it comes to education on human research protections, organizations tend to combine online and in-person training. Some education programs include one-on-one mentoring; others encourage attendance at conferences and seminars. But by far the most popular education resource—for IRB members, IRB staff, researchers, and organizational officials—is the Collaborative Institutional Training Initiative (CITI).

Those are among the findings when AAHRPP recently asked research organizations to describe their initial and continuing education requirements. Two-thirds of responding organizations rely to some extent on CITI modules. Some require CITI training; others offer it as one of several options.

Other key findings include:

  • Nearly all respondents have formal requirements for initial and continuing education for organizational officials. Most use CITI modules or the Office for Human Research Protections module for organizational officials.
  • All those involved in reviewing, conducting, or overseeing research (IRB staff, IRB members, researchers, research staff, and organizational officials) must take part in continuing education every two to three years.
  • Sixty-seven percent of respondents allow internal programs to count toward fulfilling education requirements; 81 percent permit external programs to count.
  • Training for IRB members and IRB staff typically includes CITI modules plus in-person education: conducting education sessions during IRB meetings, mentoring, and pairing new committee members with those who have more experience, for example.
  • For researchers and research staff, respondents usually require CITI modules for initial and continuing education. Areas such as event reporting and research coordination might call for additional training.

Karen Hansen, CITI co-founder, attributes the reliance on CITI modules—especially among researchers and research staff―to the combination of convenience and controls. “CITI provides a uniform platform for offering basic education and training on regulations and ethical principles that apply to research,” Ms. Hansen says. “It also is an excellent alternative for clinicians whose schedules make it difficult to attend training lectures.”

Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, where Ms. Hansen serves as Director, Institutional Review Office, mandates CITI training for new IRB staff members and offers the training as an option to new researchers and research staff.

AAHRPP interprets the responses to mean that organizations both take education seriously and appreciate the flexibility that is built into the AAHRPP standards.

“We require organizations to have an education program, but we don’t dictate what that program should include or how the content should be delivered,” says Peter Vasilenko, Ph.D., Chief Education and Evaluation Officer. “These results confirm that there are many different ways to fulfill the AAHRPP education requirement—and that each organization is best equipped to develop the program that meets its needs.”

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