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Ethical review and approval

Ethical review is a process by which an independent committee assesses the ethics, quality, methods and researcher capabilities of a project against the guidelines provided by the NHMRC. All research must have:

  • scientific merit
  • be able to demonstrate that any benefits outweigh any associated risks
  • be conducted by personnel qualified to undertake the research
  • show respect for the participants (with particular guidelines for vulnerable groups)
  • consider ethical issues associated with the methodology being employed.
  • Ethical review is undertaken by an NHMRC registered Human Research Ethics Committee (HREC).

Obtaining ethical approval to conduct research

All proposed research that involves Sunshine Coast Hospital and Health Service (SCHHS) patients, staff, information or facilities must obtain ethical approval from an NHMRC registered Human Research Ethics Committee (HREC). However, ethical approval does not provide authorisation for research to commence in the SCHHS. Authorisation is given through a separate additional process known as Research Governance.

At present, the SCHHS does not have its own HREC. Researchers wishing to undertake projects in, or in collaboration with, the SCHHS can obtain ethical review and approval through an HREC from another Hospital and Health Service. Refer to the Queensland Health listing for HRECs for more information.

  • Single-centre Research:
    We recommend that single-centre research (to be conducted in the SCHHS only) should be submitted to Metro North Hospital and Health Service HREC. However, researchers should keep in mind the nature of their project and consider whether a targeted HREC may be more appropriate (for example, research involving children must be reviewed by an HREC registered or certified to review children’s research such as the Children’s Health Queensland HREC).
  • Multi-centre Research:
    Multi-centre ethical review should be booked through the Central Coordinating Service. The project will be allocated to an HREC certified to review multi-centre projects. Multi-centre research is considered any project in which multiple facilities are involved (eg Nambour General Hospital and Royal Brisbane & Women’s Hospital) or where a single Queensland Health hospital is involved and one or more external sites (e.g. private practice; university; interstate health service).
  • Interstate Multi-centre Research:
    Queensland Health is a party to the Memorandum of Understanding for Single Ethical Review of Multi-centre Research (MOU) with New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia.  The MOU allows Queensland Health Hospital and Health Services to accept the ethical and scientific review of an NHMRC Certified public health HREC from each of the four states. For more information on the MOU, please contact the Health and Medical Research Unit, Healthcare Innovation and Research Branch, Clinical Excellence Division.

HREC Submission Requirements

Ethical approval is obtained using the ethics application form from the Ethical Review Manager (ERM) website.

It is recommended that all researchers contact the HREC before submitting their application to discuss submission requirements. Most Queensland Health HRECs provide a checklist for researchers to ensure submission requirements have been met.  Inadequate submissions will delay any HREC approval and therefore delay commencement of the project.

Last updated: 19 September 2018


Research Governance Unit:

Administration: (07) 5202 3005



Clinical trials:


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