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01.12.2018 | Research | Ausgabe 1/2018 Open Access

Trials 1/2018

Clinical research ethics review process in Lebanon: efficiency and functions of research ethics committees – results from a descriptive questionnaire-based study

Trials > Ausgabe 1/2018
David Atallah, Malak Moubarak, Nadine El Kassis, Sara Abboud
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Electronic supplementary material

The online version of this article (doi:https://​doi.​org/​10.​1186/​s13063-017-2397-2) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.



Clinical trials conducted in Lebanon are increasing. However, little is known about the performance of research ethics committees (RECs) in charge of reviewing the research protocols. This study aimed to assess the level of adherence to the ethics surrounding the conduct of clinical trials and perceptions of team members regarding roles of the RECs during the conduct of clinical trials in Lebanon. The research question was: Are RECs adherent to the ethics surrounding the conduct of clinical trials (chapters II and IV in ‘Standards and Operational Guidance for Ethics Review of Health-related Research with Human Participants’ in Lebanon?’


This was a quantitative and descriptive questionnaire-based study conducted among RECs of university hospitals in Lebanon. The questionnaire had to be completed online and included general questions in addition to items reflecting the different aspects of a REC performance and effectiveness. All the questionnaire was assigned a total score of 175 points. General information and questions assigned point values/scores were analysed using descriptive statistics: frequency and percentage, mean score ± standard deviation.


Ten RECs participated in the study (52 persons: four chairs, one vice-president, 47 ordinary members). Forty-seven (90.4%) had previous experience with clinical research and 30 (57.7%) had a diploma or had done a training in research ethics. Forty-one percent confirmed that they were required to have a training in research ethics. All RECs had a policy for disclosing and managing potential conflicts of interest for its members, but 71.8% of participants reported the existence of such a policy for researchers. Thirty-three point three percent reported that the RECs had an anti-bribery policy. The questionnaire mean score was 129.6 ± 22.3/175 points reflecting thus an excellent adherence to international standards.


Inadequate training of REC members and the lack of anti-bribery policies should be resolved to improve their performance.
Additional file 1: Study Questionnaire - RECs in Lebanon. (DOCX 54 kb)
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