Applications and secretariat workload at the University of the Witwatersrand Human Research Ethics Committee (Medical) 2002 - 2011: A case study
AbstractObjective: To examine trends in the numbers of new applications for ethics clearance of health research and associated research ethics committee secretariat activity.
Methods: Data were obtained from research ethics committee secretariat databases with ethics approval.
Results: General research applications increased from 440 in 2002 to 685 in 2011, all handled by one full-time staff member. This load is expected to increase by 250 per year for 2012, 2013 and 2014 before reaching a plateau. This new applications load per year is based on registered clinical postgraduates at the University of the Witwatersrand in a 4-year specialisation who must comply with the new Health Professions Council of South Africa requirement for completion of Master’s level research in order to register as a clinical specialist. Sponsored clinical trials have remained and should remain at approximately 100 per year but require three staff members to attend to this workload.
Conclusion: The increased workload is a serious challenge and has to be tackled first by increasing the administrative staff number.