Author(s): Mosconi P, Colombo C, Labianca R, Apolone G
While there is general consensus about the basic features of ethical research, the explosion of information from technology, genetics and clinical research, and the desire to accelerate the translation of preliminary findings into clinical research and practice have created space for conflicts between the aims of research, medical ethics and human rights. Research ethics committees (RECs) play a crucial role. In 2004, a short standardized questionnaire was sent to 110 Italian oncologists. The questionnaire explored aspects of the interaction between oncologists and RECs, including reports on personal experience with RECs, and the oncologists' opinions and level of satisfaction with important functions of RECs, such as bureaucratic, ethics, scientific, and educational and training aspects. The findings are compared with those from the previous surveys. Eighty-three out of the 91 oncologists returned the questionnaire. Responders were working in 67 hospitals (60 RECs). The level of satisfaction with REC activities was high for ethical and scientific aspects (87 and 80% were satisfied or very satisfied, respectively); somewhat lower for bureaucratic and secretarial aspects (61%); and much lower for educational and formation activities (33%). Comparison with other surveys does not show any important difference. The main findings of this survey are the stable figures concerning oncologists' opinions and the low ratings given to education and training aspects. This latter finding clearly identifies the need for educational activities, and the possibility of using this approach to foster interactions between RECs and researchers.