Ethical approval for national studies in Ireland: an illustration of current challenges.

BACKGROUND: Ethical approval of research projects is, appropriately, an essential prerequisite in health settings. AIMS: This paper outlines difficulties encountered with procedures for gaining ethical approval for two multicentre surveys in Ireland.

METHODS: The experiences of two national surveys were documented. RESULTS: Delays in processing ethics applications led to substantial delays in both surveys. Research ethics committees (RECs) assessed applications in an idiosyncratic manner.

CONCLUSION: In Ireland, there is currently no accepted mechanism for single location ethical approval for multicentre studies. Instead, they require separate approval from all participating centres. The challenges of this system of application to multiple committees are outlined in this paper, and possible solutions presented.