Thursday, June 28, 2012


Accreditation Then and Now

When we issued the first AAHRPP-accreditation standards, our goal was to strengthen human research protections and, in the process, improve the quality of research. A decade later, AAHRPP has succeeded beyond expectations. Equally important, with support from AAHRPP-accredited organizations around the globe, we continue to find new ways to advance research while raising the bar for ethics and quality.

The most obvious measures of AAHRPP’s success can be found in the numbers:

  • All major U.S. independent institutional review boards (IRBs) are AAHRPP accredited.
  • 53% of U.S. research-intensive universities are AAHRPP accredited, and an additional 10% have begun the AAHRPP-accreditation process.
  • 52% of U.S. medical schools are AAHRPP accredited, and an additional 10% have begun the AAHRPP-accreditation process.

Perhaps even more impressive, however, are the fundamental changes that AAHRPP and AAHRPP-accredited organizations have spurred across the research enterprise. Following are just a few examples:

  • Before AAHRPP, efforts to strengthen research protections focused primarily on IRBs. Today, largely in response to AAHRPP’s accreditation requirements, IRBs typically represent just one component of an organization’s comprehensive human research protection program (HRPP). Furthermore, organizations recognize that the responsibility for research protections is shared across the HRPP—and that the entire HRPP must meet AAHRPP standards to earn the AAHRPP gold seal.
  • The first independent IRBs to pursue AAHRPP accreditation did so as a way to differentiate themselves from their peers. For today’s independent IRBs, AAHRPP accreditation is a must. In fact, independent IRBs tell us that clients often ask about AAHRPP accreditation before contracting for IRB services.
  • A decade ago, quality was considered important but not quantifiable. Today, AAHRPP and AAHRPP-accredited  HRPPs, routinely use metrics to assess quality improvement efforts and set higher goals.
  • AAHRPP-accredited organizations have embraced and often exceed our standards, and the result has been significant gains in knowledge, competence, and professionalism. AAHRPP site visitors say they are struck by how far HRPPs have come in the past decade—and by the differences between AAHRPP-accredited and non-accredited organizations.
  • Now that AAHRPP is firmly established as the gold standard for accreditation within the U.S., we are looking to extend our influence overseas. With AAHRPP-accredited organizations in Canada, China, India, Korea, and Singapore, we are determined to achieve our goal of one standard worldwide for research protections.

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