• We are sorry, but NCBI web applications do not support your browser and may not function properly. More information
Logo of jmedethJournal of Medical EthicsCurrent TOCInstructions to authors
J Med Ethics. Oct 1996; 22(5): 263–266.
PMCID: PMC1377056

Delays and diversity in the practice of local research ethics committees.


OBJECTIVES: To compare the practices of local research ethics committees and the time they take to obtain ethical approval for a multi-centre study. DESIGN: A retrospective analysis of outcome of applications for a multi-centre study to local research ethics committees. SETTING: Thirty-six local research ethics committees covering 38 district health authorities in England. MAIN MEASURES: Response of chairmen and women, the time required to obtain approval, and questions asked in application forms. RESULTS: We received replies from all 36 chairmen contacted: four (11%) granted their approval, and 32 (89%) required our proposal to be considered by their local research ethics committee. Three committees asked us to attend their meetings. The application was approved by all 36 local research ethics committees but the time to obtain ethical approval varied between six to 208 days. One third of the committees did not approve the project within three months, and three took longer than six months. There was considerable variation in the issues raised by local research ethics committees and none conformed exactly to the Royal College of Physicians' guidelines. CONCLUSION: Obtaining ethical approval for a multi-centre study is time-consuming. There is much diversity in the practice of local research ethics committees. Our data support the recommendation for a central or regional review body of multi-centre studies which will be acceptable to all local research ethics committees.

Full text

Full text is available as a scanned copy of the original print version. Get a printable copy (PDF file) of the complete article (678K), or click on a page image below to browse page by page. Links to PubMed are also available for Selected References.

Selected References

These references are in PubMed. This may not be the complete list of references from this article.
  • Diamond AL, Laurence DR. Compensation and drug trials. Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1983 Sep 3;287(6393):675–677. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Marshall Tim, Moodie Peter. Scrutinising research ethics committees. BMJ. 1988 Sep 24;297(6651):753–753. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Timmis AD, Fowler MB, Chamberlain DA. Comparison of haemodynamic responses to dopamine and salbutamol in severe cardiogenic shock complicating acute myocardial infarction. Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1981 Jan 3;282(6257):7–9. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Gilbert C, Fulford KW, Parker C. Diversity in the practice of district ethics committees. BMJ. 1989 Dec 9;299(6713):1437–1439. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Moran J. Local research ethics committees. Report of the 2nd National Conference. J R Coll Physicians Lond. 1992 Oct;26(4):423–431. [PubMed]
  • Berry TJ, Ades TE, Peckham CS. Too many ethical committees. BMJ. 1990 Dec 1;301(6763):1274–1274. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Hotopf M, Wessely S, Noah N. Are ethical committees reliable? J R Soc Med. 1995 Jan;88(1):31–33. [PMC free article] [PubMed]

Articles from Journal of Medical Ethics are provided here courtesy of BMJ Group


Related citations in PubMed

See reviews...See all...

Cited by other articles in PMC

See all...


  • PubMed
    PubMed citations for these articles

Recent Activity

Your browsing activity is empty.

Activity recording is turned off.

Turn recording back on

See more...