Challenges faced by research ethics committees in El Salvador: results from a focus group study.
OBJECTIVE: To identify perceived barriers to capacity building for local research ethics oversight in El Salvador, and to set an agenda for international collaborative capacity building. METHODS: Focus groups were formed in El Salvador which included 17 local clinical investigators and members of newly formed research ethics committees. Information about the proposed research was presented to participants during an international bioethics colloquium sponsored and organized by the St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in collaboration with the National Ethics Committee of El Salvador and the University of El Salvador. Interviews with the focus group participants were qualitatively analyzed. RESULTS: Participants expressed the need to tailor the informed consent process and documentation to the local culture; for example, allowing family members to participate in decision-making, and employing shorter consent forms. Participants indicated that economic barriers often impede efforts in local capacity building. Participants valued international collaboration for mutual capacity building in research ethics oversight. CONCLUSIONS: Research ethics committees in El Salvador possess a basic knowledge of locally relevant ethical principles, though they need more training to optimize the application of bioethical principles and models to their particular contexts. Challenges increase the value of collaborative exchanges with ethics committee members in the United States. Further research on facilitating communication between host country and sponsor country ethics committees can maximize local research ethics expertise, and thus raise the standard of protecting human participants involved in international research.
Camp, JW; Barfield, RC; Rodriguez, V; Young, AJ; Finerman, R; Caniza, MA
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