Shifting Perspectives: Changing the Way the IRB is Perceived Through Education and Superior Customer Service


Abstract Description
IRB Administrative offices are often seen as bureaucracies and the IRB process has not always been received well by the research community. Researchers often view the IRB as a burdensome review body that is simply in place to hinder or delay research, not serving any purpose in the protection of human subjects. At times, tension can run high between administrators, investigators, and other members of the research team. Often, the main issues are a result of miscommunication and lack of knowledge with regards to the IRB process. 

At our institution's IRB, the mission of protecting human subjects begins with a customer service. One aspect of this customer service is found in the education and guidance of the research community by the IRB office. For this reason, our institution's IRB has extensively built a customer service oriented environment that is grounded on education for investigators and their research teams. To that end, the IRB administrators receive ongoing training in presentation skills; both written communication and oral presentations with a focus on presenting user-friendly regulatory information. This training helps IRB administrators better serve and educate the research community on matters related to IRB regulations, policies, and procedures. 

This poster will provide an overview of how interaction with the research community evolves over time. We will highlight how the training methods were developed and provide data on how this training has helped transform IRB administrators into stellar customer service representatives for the research community. It will also demonstrate the feedback we have received thus far. 

IRB Education Includes: IRB staff education and training- OHRP regulations; presentation skills; email communication; communication of research related clarifications; consent and authorization waiver; usage; PI lecture series; IRB symposium ; and PRIM&R attendance.

Many of the services we offer the research community require them to visit our location in person. Our feedback indicated members of the research community would like the information to be offered remotely or virtually. We believe there is benefit to hosting these sessions live, as they provide the research community with an opportunity to interact with the staff and other attendees. However, we are working to develop OnDemand education modules that will include basic information about submissions. This can then be available in addition to the in-person sessions we currently offer. 

The information gathered from this evaluation will help other IRBs implement structured education and training programs to transition their personnel into a customer service providing body.