With the continued risk of COVID-19 exposure and as Public Health and institutional directives such as physical distancing continue to be mandated, researchers must think about converting studies involving in-person contact into remote methods of data collection. Modified study procedures may be carried out with Research Ethics Board approval when feasible (and only when appropriate).
The Office of Human Research Ethics (OHRE) is aware of the urgency to provide the research community with guidelines to support continued research activities. To that end, they have developed two new guidance documents:
Ethical considerations for remote consent and assent : This guidance document was developed by the OHRE in collaboration with six other institutions, including local hospitals, Western’s privacy office and the Lawson Health Research Institute. It provides guidelines for our research community for alternative consent processes, as opposed to the traditional in person consent process. In addition, it also provides a board framework for different consent options and documentation.
Western Qualtrics for electronic documentation of consent: Working closely with Western’s privacy office as well as Western’s Technology Services they have developed a guidance document that addresses specific requirements for the use of Western Qualtrics to document consent (electronic consent).
When conversion isn’t possible: There may be instances when it is not appropriate to make a specific change to your data collection (e.g. conducting in-person interviews about a sensitive topic and with a vulnerable population). In these instances, study activities may have to remain on hold until physical distancing requirements are not required.
Please remember that during these times, the logistics for any prospective research must be carefully considered. For more information, please see the past communication, Considerations for New Initial REB applications and Amendments for ongoing studies.
If you would like to review any previous memoranda or other communications, you can find them on the website under Communications and Memos. To review all guidance and template documents, please visit the Guidance and Templates page, or go to WREM (under HELP > Templates).
If you have any questions or concerns, please contact the office at firstname.lastname@example.org or 519-661- 3036.