Are We Asking the Right Questions? A Review of Canadian REB Practices in Relation to Community-Based Participatory Research Academic Article uri icon

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  • Access barriers to effective ethics review continue to be a significant challenge for researchers and community-based organizations undertaking community-based participatory research (CBPR). This article reports on findings from a content analysis of select (Behavioural, Biomedical, Social Sciences, Humanities) research ethics boards (REBs) in the Canadian research context (n = 86). Existing ethics review documentation was evaluated using 30 CBPR related criteria for their sensitivity to relevant approaches, processes, and outcomes. A linear regression was conducted to determine whether specific organizational characteristics have an impact on the CBPR sensitivity: (1) region of Canada, (2) type of institution (university or a healthcare organization), (3) primary institutional language (English or French) and (4) national ranking with respect to research intensiveness. While only research intensiveness proved statistically significant (p = .001), we recognize REB protocol forms may not actually reflect how CBPR is reviewed. Despite using a single guiding ethical framework, REBs across Canada employ a variety of techniques to review research studies. We report on these differences and varying levels of sensitivity to CBPR. Finally, we highlight best practices and make recommendations for integrating CBPR principles into existing ethics review.


  • Guta, Adrian
  • Wilson, Michael
  • Flicker, Sarah
  • Travers, Robb
  • Mason, Catherine
  • Wenyeve, Gloria
  • O'Campo, Patricia

publication date

  • June 2010