Association for the Accreditation
of Human Research Protection Programs, Inc. ®

Survey Results Highlight Value, Impact of Accreditation

Accredited organizations overwhelmingly view AAHRPP accreditation as an affirmation of the quality of their human research protection program (HRPP). Perhaps even more important, these organizations associate accreditation with stronger protections for research participants and increased emphasis on identifying opportunities for improvement.

Those are just some of the findings of AAHRPP’s recent—and most comprehensive—survey of HRPP administrators.

Conducted by a survey center of an academic institution, the survey was distributed last summer to all accredited organizations. These include academic institutions, hospitals and health systems, independent IRBs, research institutes, and government entities around the globe. To protect confidentiality, AAHRPP did not receive any identifiable information related to survey responses.

AAHRPP will use the results to target areas for improvement and identify initiatives to better serve the HRPP community.

“Our goal was to get a frank assessment from our accredited organizations on the value of accreditation, what AAHRPP does best, and what we can do better,” says Nichelle Cobb, PhD, AAHRPP Senior Advisor for Strategic Initiatives. “We see the survey as an essential component of our commitment to continuous quality improvement—the same commitment we expect of our accredited partners.”

Survey questions touched on reasons for seeking accreditation, the impact of accreditation on the HRPP community, and the value of the accreditation process. The survey also sought input on virtual versus in-person site visits and which, if any, additional services and resources organizations would like AAHRPP to offer.

In addition, the survey asked whether organizations would be interested in participating in working groups focused on topics that pose challenges for organizations related to accreditation and beyond. In response, AAHRPP received the names of more than 100 volunteers—and has already launched the first of up to three working groups that will be introduced this year as part of the Collaborative AAHRPP Network (CAN) initiative.

Survey Highlights

More than 90% of survey respondents named each of the following reasons for pursuing accreditation:

  • Demonstrate the excellence of their HRPP. 
  • Improve the protection of research participants.
  • Identify areas of improvement for the HRPP.

82.5% responded that accreditation encouraged periodic assessment of compliance, efficiency, and effectiveness of the HRPP.

  • 77.8% responded that accreditation helped improve HRPP policies and procedures.
  • 75% consider site visits to be “very” or “extremely” valuable.
  • 71% view the accreditation process as “very” or “extremely” valuable.

In the comments section, HRPP administrators expressed support for changing the reaccreditation process for long-time accredited organizations. Partly because of that input, the first CAN working group— launched in February—is focusing on ways to maintain high standards while reducing the burden of earning reaccreditation.

“I am grateful to our organizations for taking the time to provide such thoughtful and helpful feedback to AAHRPP. The survey was the first step. Now we’re putting the information we’ve gathered to good use,” Dr. Cobb says.

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"Accreditation was the first time our university system understood that the human protection endeavor is sytemwide, not just our little office. A very important paradigm shift!"