Knowledge, Awareness, Attitudes, and Practices towards Research Ethics and Research Ethics Committees among Myanmar Post-graduate Students

Asian Bioethics Review 12 (4):379-398 (2020)
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Abstract

Health research has increased during the last decade, which has enhanced the importance of research ethics. However, little is known regarding the knowledge, awareness, attitudes, and practices of investigators in Myanmar. To assess awareness, knowledge, and attitudes of post-graduates regarding research ethics and research ethics committees (RECs) and their informed consent practices and to determine the association between their responses and certain independent factors. We conducted a cross-sectional study using a questionnaire that was distributed to a convenience sample of post-graduates at the Defence Services Medical Academy in Myanmar. We used descriptive, t test, and chi-square statistics to analyze the data. Significance was set at p < 0.05. We obtained surveys from 204 participants, which included 177 MSc and 27 PhDs of whom 63.6% had performed research and 86.5% had prior ethics training. Regarding awareness, 92.2% were aware of an REC at their academy, but only 47.1% were “fully aware” of the functions of an REC and only 52.9% stated they were familiar with ethical principles that govern human subject research. More than 90% thought that research involving human subjects should be submitted to an REC and that post-graduates should have training on research ethics. However, several of their attitudes were sub-optimal; for example, 20.2% said that informed consent is only necessary from the community leader of a village rather than from the individual, 32.8% agreed it is acceptable to fabricate research data, and 33.0% believed that ethical review of research should be restricted to international collaborative research. Calculated mean total attitude scores were statistically significantly higher in post-graduates with PhDs compared with those with MSc and higher in those with knowledge of research ethics principles compared with those lacking such knowledge. Significant gaps exist among post-graduates regarding their knowledge, awareness, and attitudes regarding research ethics and RECs. We recommend that post-graduates receive further training in research ethics to ensure the ethical conduct of research. Further studies should be performed to determine the generalizability of our findings to other institutions in Myanmar.

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Henry Silverman
University of Maryland at Baltimore