An evaluation of a data linkage training workshop for research ethics committees

Kate Tan, Felicity Flack, N.L. Bear, Judith Allen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


In Australia research projects proposing the use of linked data require approval by a Human Research Ethics Committee (HREC). A sound evaluation of the ethical issues involved requires understanding of the basic mechanics of data linkage, the associated benefits and risks, and the legal context in which it occurs. The rapidly increasing number of research projects utilising linked data in Australia has led to an urgent need for enhanced capacity of HRECs to review research applications involving this emerging research methodology. The training described in this article was designed to respond to an identified need among the data linkage units in the Australian Population Health Research Network (PHRN) and HREC members in Australia.

Five one-day face to face workshops were delivered in the study period to a total of 98 participants. Participants in the workshops represented all six categories of HREC membership composition listed in the National Health and Medical Research Centres’ (NHMRC) National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research. Participants were assessed at three time points, prior to the training (T1), immediately after the training (T2) and 8 to 17 months after the training (T3).

Ninety participants completed the pre and post questionnaires; 58 of them completed the deferred questionnaire. Participants reported significant improvements in levels of knowledge, understanding and skills in each of the eight areas evaluated. The training was beneficial for those with prior experience in the area of ethics and data linkage as well as those with no prior exposure.

Our preliminary work in this area demonstrates that the provision of intensive face to face ethics training in data linkage is feasible and has a significant impact on participant’s confidence in reviewing HREC applications.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages10
JournalBMC Medical Ethics
Issue number13
Publication statusPublished - 2015


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