The VA Human Research Protection Program (HRPP) is a comprehensive system designed to ensure the protection of human subjects participating in VA research. While each VA Medical Center (VAMC) HRPP includes a variety of individuals and committees, the Institutional Review Board (IRB) is the primary committee responsible for reviewing, approving, and providing ongoing oversight for all research activities in accordance with VHA Handbook 1200.05. Despite the VA's commitment to ensure the protection of human research subjects, there is variation in the quality and efficiency of research oversight in the VA. This variation supports the need for a systematic approach for understanding and measuring the quality and efficiency of IRB review processes. The principles of Systems Redesign have a proven track record for successfully improving the quality and efficiency of a diverse range of work processes throughout the VA, and although the framework of Systems Redesign has not yet been applied to the IRB review process in the VA, it has been successfully used outside the VA in similar contexts. Thus, we propose to partner with the VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System (VAPHS) Veterans Engineering Resource Center (VERC)/ Office of Systems Redesign (OSR) to evaluate and improve the quality and efficiency of the VA IRB review process. The VAPHS VERC/OSR is one of four national VA centers charged to apply the principles of systems engineering to facilitate innovative solutions to health system challenges. Our partnership with VERC/OSR on this effort: (1) is consistent with the VA culture of continuous improvement;(2) supports our ability to produce findings relevant to multiple VA stakeholders;and (3) provides a strong foundation for the implementation of our research findings. The proposed research will use a combination of systems engineering, qualitative, and quantitative methods to perform an in-depth analysis of IRB processes at 10 VA sites with substantial research programs, including the Central IRB. This analysis is critical to identifying barriers to quality and efficiency in IRB review processes and identifying best IRB practices to overcome these barriers.
The specific aims of the proposed research are to: (1) develop current-state process flow maps of the IRB review processes at each selected site;(2) measure variation in the efficiency of IRB review in terms of IRB review times and investigator and IRB member burden;(3) measure variation in the quality of IRB review using the IRB Researcher Assessment Tool, the Common Rule Criteria for IRB review, and the Office of Human Research Protections'algorithm for determining the appropriate type of review (e.g., expedited, exempt, full board);and (4) model the IRB review process using quality and efficiency data to identify high-impact, high- feasibility initiatives for process improvement that can be tested in future research. Exploratory analyses will also begin to: (A) assess the relationship between organizational culture and IRB efficiency and quality;and (B) examine the organizational climate as set forth in the IRB SOPs. Our long term goal is to identify and implement best practices for VA IRBs. The work proposed here will directly inform subsequent research aimed at testing initiatives for IRB process improvement. Initiatives that prove successful will be then be used to develop IRB best practices that can be implemented throughout the VA.

Public Health Relevance

The VA Human Research Protection Program (HRPP) is a comprehensive system designed to ensure the protection of human subjects participating in VA research. While each VA Medical Center (VAMC) HRPP includes a variety of individuals and committees, the Institutional Review Board (IRB) is the primary committee responsible for reviewing, approving, and providing ongoing oversight for all research activities in accordance with VHA Handbook 1200.05. Despite the VA's commitment to ensure the protection of human research subjects, there is variation in the quality and efficiency of research oversight. The proposed research will use a combination of systems engineering, qualitative, and quantitative methods to perform an in-depth analysis of VA IRB processes at 10 VAMCs in order to identify initiatives for process change aimed at improving the quality and efficiency of the IRB review processes. Subsequent research will test these initiatives, and those proven successful will form the basis of IRB best practices that can be implemented throughout the VA.

Agency
National Institute of Health (NIH)
Institute
Veterans Affairs (VA)
Type
Non-HHS Research Projects (I01)
Project #
1I01HX000839-01
Application #
8279692
Study Section
Service Directed Research (HSR8)
Project Start
2012-07-01
Project End
2014-06-30
Budget Start
2012-07-01
Budget End
2013-06-30
Support Year
1
Fiscal Year
2013
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
Name
Veterans Health Administration
Department
Type
DUNS #
033127569
City
Pittsburgh
State
PA
Country
United States
Zip Code
15206