Overcoming a Primary Barrier to Practice-Based Research: Access to an Institutional Review Board (IRB) for Independent Ethics Review

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Abstract

Practice-based research is an important means of bridging the gap between the science and practice of psychotherapy. Unfortunately, numerous barriers exist for clinicians who want to conduct research in practice settings. One specific barrier that has received minimal attention in the literature—lack of access to institutional review board (IRB) oversight for independent ethics review—can impede the ability to carry out and disseminate research projects. This article identifies reasons that practice-based researchers may want to seek IRB review even when not required, reviews the pros and cons of a range of strategies that some practice-based researchers have used to try and address lack of access to an IRB, and describes a novel solution for this problem: the creation of the Behavioral Health Research Collective IRB, a nonprofit IRB whose mission is to provide ethical oversight to practice-based researchers. The authors describe their experiences of developing and running the Behavioral Health Research Collective IRB, with the intent of providing a model for other professionals to create similar mechanisms for supporting practice-based research.

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