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Ethics & Human Research

Factors Associated with IRB Review Time in a Non-Federally Funded Study Using an sIRB of Record

ABSTRACT From 2018 to 2020, U.S. federal mandates began requiring the use of a single institutional review board (sIRB) of record for federally funded, multisite studies. With an interest in the efficiency of site activation, we compared the frequency with which local review and approval and three different reliance options (ways to establish a reliance agreement between the sIRB and the relying institution) were used during this period in a multisite, non-federally funded study ( identifier: NCT03928548). Using general linear models, we analyzed the relationships between local reliance or approval and sIRB-of-record approval times and (a) the regulatory option selected and (b) relying-site and process characteristics. Eighty-five sites received sIRB approval through 72 submissions (40% using local review, 46% using the SMART IRB agreement, 10% using an IRB authorization agreement, and 4% using a letter of sup-port). Median time to establish a local reliance or study approval and sIRB approval were longest for sites using a SMART IRB agreement. Study-site region and the time of submission were significantly associated with local reliance or approval time, which averaged 129 and 107 days faster for Midwestern (p = 0.03) or Western (p = 0.02) sites, respectively, and 70 days slower for Northeastern sites (p = 0.42) compared with sites in the South, and 91 days slower when regulatory communication was initiated during or after February 2019 compared with before (p = 0.02). Similar relationships between sIRB approval time and region and time frame were observed; in addition, approval time was 103 days slower for sites affiliated with a research 1 (R1) university versus not (p = 0.02). Region of the country, time frame, and R1 university affiliation were associated with variations in study-site activation in a non-federally funded, multisite study.

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