Background: With the growing amount of clinical research, regulations and research ethics are becoming more stringent. This trend introduces a need for quality assurance measures for ensuring adherence to research ethics and human research protection beyond Institutional Review Board approval. Audits, one of the most effective tools for assessing quality assurance, are measures used to evaluate Good Clinical Practice (GCP) and protocol compliance in clinical research. However, they are laborious, time consuming, and require expertise. Therefore, we developed a simple auditing process (a screening audit) and evaluated its feasibility and effectiveness. Methods: The screening audit was developed using a routine audit checklist based on the Severance Hospital's Human Research Protection Program policies and procedures. The measure includes 20 questions, and results are summarized in five categories of audit findings. We analyzed 462 studies that were reviewed by the Severance Hospital Human Research Protection Center between 2013 and 2017. We retrospectively analyzed research characteristics, reply rate, audit findings, associated factors and post-screening audit compliance, etc. Results: Investigator reply rates gradually increased, except for the first year (73% → 26% → 53% → 49% → 55%). The studies were graded as "critical," "major," "minor," and "not a finding" (11.9, 39.0, 42.9, and 6.3%, respectively), based on findings and number of deficiencies. The auditors' decisions showed fair agreement with weighted kappa values of 0.316, 0.339, and 0.373. Low-risk level studies, single center studies, and non-phase clinical research showed more prevalent frequencies of being "major" or "critical" (p = 0.002, < 0.0001, < 0.0001, respectively). Inappropriateness of documents, failure to obtain informed consent, inappropriateness of informed consent process, and failure to protect participants' personal information were associated with higher audit grade (p < 0.0001, p = 0.0001, p < 0.0001, p = 0.003). We were able to observe critical GCP violations in the routine internal audit results of post-screening audit compliance checks in "non-responding" and "critical" studies upon applying the screening audit. Conclusions: Our screening audit is a simple and effective way to assess overall GCP compliance by institutions and to ensure medical ethics. The tool also provides useful selection criteria for conducting routine audits.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This study was supported by a grant from the National R&D Program for Cancer Control, Ministry of Health and Welfare, Republic of Korea (1520190).
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Issues, ethics and legal aspects
- Health(social science)
- Health Policy