Research ethics

SA Health is committed to supporting the conduct of high quality health and medical research across the South Australian public health system.

The ethical review of research is an important step in ensuring the quality of research and maintaining the welfare of research participants. It is a requirement that all research conducted at South Australian public health  organisations, or involving staff or clients of South Australian public health organisations, including regional health services, hospitals, community health services, public health clinics and associated programs, complies with the SA Health Research Ethics Policy (PDF 214KB).

Human Research Ethics Committees

Human Research Ethics Committees (HRECs) are established to protect the welfare of people involved in research. For further information on the four South Australian public health sector HRECs, please refer to the SA Health Human Research Ethics Committees page.

Streamlined ethical review

SA Health participates in the National Mutual Acceptance (NMA) scheme to support the single scientific and ethical review of research projects taking place across participating Australian jurisdictions.  Further information on the scheme can be found on the NMA page.

For research projects occurring at more than one South Australian public health organisation, the SA Health Single Ethical Review Model allows a single ethical and scientific review for all applicable projects. More information on the single ethical review model is available on the SA Health Single Ethical Review Model page.

What research requires ethical review?

Human research is research conducted with or about people or on their data or tissue. Human research is directed at understanding and improving health and wellbeing and its treatment across the population. Quality Assurance and Continuous Quality Improvement activities, while generally considered as low risk, may also constitute research and so be bound by the requirements of the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research.

In accordance with the National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research (2007), human research that involves the following methodologies generally requires ethics approval by a properly constituted Human Research Ethics Committee.

  • Conducting surveys, interviews or focus groups.
  • Performing psychological, physiological or medical testing or treatment.
  • Observational studies.
  • Accessing personal documents or other materials of research participants.
  • The collection and use of body organs, tissues or fluids (for example skin, blood, urine, saliva, hair, bones, tumour and other biopsy specimens) or their exhaled breath.
  • Accessing personal information (in individually identifiable, re-identifiable or non-identifiable form) as part of an existing published or unpublished source or database.

The National Statement also provides further guidance regarding specific ethical considerations relevant to different categories of research.

If you are unsure of whether your project requires ethical review please contact the relevant Executive Officer associated with the Human Research Ethics Committee (HREC) at the institution where you plan to undertake your research.

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