Monday, August 6, 2012

Organizations Cite Positive Changes After Completing AAHRPP Process

Organizations that complete the AAHRPP accreditation process say they see fundamental, positive changes throughout their human research protection programs (HRPPs) and across their institutions. Many of the changes, such as stronger research and standardized procedures, were expected. Others, such as a more customer-focused approach, have come as a pleasant surprise.

At first, the effect of these changes was noticeable only within a small group of organizations. But over the past decade, as AAHRPP accreditation has become the gold standard nationwide, the research enterprise as a whole has undergone a transformation.

Following are some of the most common changes noted by AAHRPP-accredited organizations:

  • Shared responsibility, from the top down, for research protections. Senior officials are more aware of and involved in research protections. This involvement has a ripple effect, setting the stage for a culture of compliance across the organization. In addition, researchers, IRB staff, and others cite the improved communication and collegiality that result when everyone has a common goal.
  • More knowledgeable researchers and IRB members. Because researchers have a better understanding of the federal regulations, organizations are seeing fewer protocol deviations and incidents of noncompliance. In addition, as IRB members and staff become more confident in their own knowledge of the regulations, they also feel more comfortable when they apply the regulations—and take advantage of the flexibility that the regulations allow.
  • Increased emphasis on customer service. Many say the AAHRPP accreditation process gives them a different perspective not just on research protections but also on their relationship with their colleagues. As a result, although they continue to require compliance, IRBs tend to stress their role as a resource, focused on meeting the needs of their customers, including researchers and research participants.
  • Emphasis on quality improvement and metrics. AAHRPP standards require organizations to “measure and improve, when necessary, the quality, effectiveness, and efficiency” of the HRPP. AAHRPP-accredited organizations lead the way in using metrics to assess and report on progress and to guide quality improvement efforts. As organizations find new ways to streamline the research review process, they report shorter turnaround times and increased customer satisfaction.
  • Greater visibility and respect for the HRPP. AAHRPP was instrumental in promoting the concept of a comprehensive, systematic HRPP. At AAHRPP-accredited institutions, administrators, faculty, and students have a greater awareness of the importance of the HRPP and their own responsibility to protect research participants.

Organizations realize that to succeed in today’s research enterprise, they must demonstrate quality, improve efficiency, and increase collaboration. For many, AAHRPP accreditation provides the means to accomplish these objectives. Through its combination of in-depth self-assessment, external peer review, and one-on-one engagement with applicants, the AAHRPP accreditation process has played a singular role in strengthening research protections and improving the quality of research.

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