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Nurs Res Pract. 2013;2013:548591. doi: 10.1155/2013/548591. Epub 2013 Apr 23.

Variations in institutional review board approval in the implementation of an improvement research study.

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  • 1Academic Center for Evidence-Based Practice, School of Nursing, University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, MSC 7949, 7703 Floyd Curl Drive, San Antonio, TX 78229, USA.


The purpose of this paper is to report the variance in institutional review board (IRB) reviews as part of the implementation of a multisite, quality improvement study through the Improvement Science Research Network (ISRN) and recommend strategies successful in procuring timely IRB approval. Using correspondence documents as data sources, the level of review was identified and time to submission, time to approval, and time to study start were analyzed. Thirteen of the 14 IRBs conducted independent reviews of the project. Twelve IRBs approved the study through expedited review while two IRBs reviewed the project at a full board meeting. Lastly, 11 of the 14 sites required documented consent. The greatest delay in approval was seen early on in the IRB process with site PIs averaging 45.1 ± 31.8 days to submit the study to the IRB. IRB approvals were relatively quick with an average of 14 ± 5.7 days to approval. The delay in study submission may be attributed to a lack of clear definitions and differing interpretations of the regulations that challenge researchers.

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