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This SOP establishes the process for identifying possible institutional conflicts of interests (ICOI) related to UNC-Chapel Hill human subjects research and the process for coordinating with the UNC-Chapel Hill Conflict of Interest Office. The goal of this SOP is to ensure timely, appropriate reviews of possible ICOI.
Genetic research studies may create special risks to human subjects and their relatives. These involve medical, psychosocial, legal and economic risks, such as the possible loss of privacy, insurability, and employability, change in immigration status and limits on education options, and may create a social stigma. Knowledge of one's genetic make-up may also affect one's knowledge of the disease risk status of family members.
Family research typically involves obtaining information from one family member (called a proband) about other family members (third parties). For a detailed description of family history research, see SOP 2901
In general, an anecdotal report on one or a series of patients seen in one’s own practice and a comparison of these patients to existing reports in the literature is not research and does not require IRB approval. Going beyond one’s own practice to seek out and report cases seen by other clinicians creates the appearance of a systematic investigation with the intent to contribute to generalizable knowledge and therefore is considered research and would require IRB approval.
The IRB should pay particular attention to the following issues in survey research: Possibility of undue influence in administration of the survey; Possibility of deductive disclosure based on demographic information garnered from subjects (subject confidentiality and privacy must be protected); The setting of the survey and the issues raised by such a setting; and The mode of obtaining consent, especially when implied consent is to be used.
If researchers wish to utilize data from voice, video, digital or image recordings, they must take a variety of special precautions. First, the researcher must obtain appropriate permissions from subjects who will not have their anonymity protected due to the very nature of the data being collected.
Each separate human subjects research study requires IRB review and approval of the specific proposed study, regardless of whether the data set or research materials have been previously compiled.
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC-Chapel Hill) has established standards and safeguards to protect patient’s information and to ensure compliance with federal and state information security regulations.
While any person may make a report if they have reasonable cause to believe that a child or elder was abused or neglected, North Carolina law mandates that certain persons who suspect child or elder abuse or neglect report this.
The vast amount of social and behavioral information potentially available on the Internet has made it an important tool for researchers wishing to study the dynamics of human interactions and their consequences in this virtual medium. Researchers can potentially collect data from widely dispersed populations at relatively low cost and in less time than similar efforts in the physical world.
Research conducted in established or commonly accepted educational settings that involve normal educational practices as well as research involving the use of educational tests, survey procedures, interview procedures, or the observation of public behavior is eligible for exemption from the Common Rule. However, such research sometimes raises special concerns to which the IRB must be especially attentive.
Studies involving the use of radiation, such as those requiring patients to be X-rayed, are not eligible for expedited review, even if all of the other procedures in the study have been deemed to pose no more than minimal risk.
With respect to cigarettes and alcoholic beverages, IRBs and researchers should be aware that under North Carolina state law these substances may not be distributed to or used by minors.
Qualitative studies, which may involve such methods as participant observation, case studies, unstructured interviews, focus groups and various other descriptive techniques, raise special issues for the IRB. Qualitative research investigators usually have a well-articulated plan for their research, often have one or more reasonably specific hypotheses to be tested, and can describe in general terms the techniques they intend to employ.
A pilot study is typically defined as an initial or smaller-scale investigation or a study to either test out new experimental designs (including survey or instrument development) or methods of treatment. Pilot studies are synonymous with feasibility studies, where the investigation proposed is planned to identify various issues to determine that the larger study of the same subject matter has the greatest potential to successfully test the intended research hypotheses.