Public health encompasses a wide range of activities spanning research, surveillance, program evaluation, and quality improvement among others. It is sometimes unclear what level of ethical oversight is needed for these activities. Ethics support services are being developed to assist public health practitioners with such questions, as well as with ethics reviews. The services include:
The ethics services will be launched in a phased approached throughout 2011. Public health units, associations, and interested individuals will be consulted to help develop and refine these services. Learn how you can get involved.
Secondment Opportunity in Ethics - Are you interested in ethics? Have you ever wanted to amend the ethics review process so that it could better address the issues that arise in population and public health? If so, you may be interested in a secondment position at PHO that will help develop and implement new ethics services for public health units. Virtual work arrangements are possible (e.g. work two days at PHO and three days at home). For more information about this exciting opportunity or to apply, visit the Career section of our website.
New Model for Ethics Services for Public Health Projets –Since last fall, two PHO working groups, in consultation with public health practitioners, have been developing a new service model to provide ethics review and support for public health. The conceptual framework working group has developed a framework to guide ethical review of Projets from a public health perspective. The planning and implementation working group is developing a suite of services to provide ethics review and support to health units and PHO for a range of public health Projets, including research, program evaluation, surveillance and quality improvement. A white paper describing the conceptual framework and a detailed description of the proposed ethics services will soon be circulated for feedback. The project team will then focus on implementation of the service model, with new services being phased in over the coming months. The ethics review process will be launched in early 2012.
A poster of the new model was presented at the Canadian Association of Research Ethics Boards in April. In June, the new model will be presented at the North American Congress of Epidemiology and the Canadian Public Health Association conference.
A public health ethics community of practice will be formed. The community of practice will build on existing competencies and activities. It will provide a means to exchanging knowledge, ideas, and experiences relating to public health ethical issues and ethics review of public health Projets.
A range of ethics education services will be offered, which may include webinars, online modules, and a collection of case Études.
Topics will include:
- Issues specific to public health ethics
- General principles to guide the ethical conduct of public health Projets
- How to review protocols submitted for ethics review.
Common forms and tools will be developed to assist with the ethical oversight of research, surveillance, program evaluation, and quality improvement activities. Common forms and tools may include:
- Lignes directrices
- risk assessment tools
- application forms
Public health units will be able to use and/or adapt these forms for their own use.
An ethics review board (ERB) will be established. The board will be made up of staff from PHO, public health units and community members. The ethics review board will serve as PHO’s board of record and will review Projets submitted for the locally driven collaborative Projets. It can also be used by public health units as a board of record. Availability of the review service to the health units will be phased in over a period of several months. This will be an optional service and no health unit is required to use this ethics review board. Provision will also be established for the ethics review board to ensure that during public health emergencies all public health units could access the ethics review board and that there will be an accelerated process to review protocols.
An informal consultation service will be available for public health units who are planning or reviewing a project. The consultation service can assist public health units to:
- determine the need for ethics review
- evaluate how best to address a particular ethical issue
- complete ethics forms
- address a challenging issue
- develop or modify a review process.
Services will be available by email or phone.
Contribute your expertise and knowledge or share your interest in ethics! Opportunities include:
- Participating in a working group to help guide the development of the forms and tools and the community of practice
- Joining the public health ethics community of practice.
To volunteer for any of these activities, please email email@example.com.
For more information about the ethics support services and the new program, the paper A New Program Model for Supporting Applied Research and Program Evaluation, Education and Perfectionnement professionnel, and Échange des connaissances in Public Health, is available online and questions can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.