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Kaewkungwal, J., & Adams, P. (2019). Ethical consideration of the research proposal and the informed-consent process: An online survey of researchers and ethics committee members in Thailand. Department of Tropical Hygiene, Faculty of Tropical Medicine, Mahidol University, Bangkok, Thailand; Office of Research Services, Faculty of Tropical Medicine, Mahidol University, Bangkok, Thailand, 26(3), 176–197. https://doi.org/https://doi.org/10.1080/08989621.2019.1608190


Researchers designing and conducting studies using human data should consider the values and principles of ethical conduct. Research ethics committees (RECs) typically evaluate the ethical acceptability of research proposals. Sometimes, differences arise between how researchers and RECs interpret ethical principles, and how they decide what constitutes ethical conduct. This study aimed to explore the opinions of these two groups about the importance of core ethical issues in the proposal and in the informed-consent process. An anonymous online questionnaire was distributed to a target population in health-related academic/research institutes across Thailand; 219 researchers and 72 REC members participated. Significantly, more REC members than researchers attributed the highest importance to three core ethical considerations – risk/benefit, vulnerability, and confidentiality/privacy. For the informed-consent process, significant differences were found for communication of risks, decision-making authority for consent, process for approaching study participants, and availability of a contact for study deviations/violations. The different ratings indicate differences in the groups’ perspectives on ethical principles, which may affect focal congruence on ethical issues in the proposal. Communication of these findings should help close gaps between REC and researcher perceptions. Further study should investigate how RECs and researchers perceive equivocal ethics terms.