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Is your project QI or Research?

Projects designated as human subject research require the review and approval of the institution's Research Ethics Board prior to initiation. Quality Improvement projects, however, have no such oversight body- and the ethical conduct of QI projects relies on the same principles that ensures ethical conduct in clinical care- namely: adherence to professional codes of conduct, role responsibilities, appropriate supervision, and following of the hospitals policies and procedures.

The sophistication of some QI projects have made it challenging to draw a clear line between what is a research project and what is clearly a quality improvement initiative. The fact that a project is destined for publication or conference presentation does not automatically mean it requires REB approval- however, some projects entail processes which may require you to obtain REB approval prior to starting your project

It is Sunnybrook’s standard operating procedure that Quality Improvement projects be registered with the institution.

Anyone planning a quality improvement project or a project where the purpose (research or quality improvement) is unclear, must complete the Ethics Review Self-Assessment Tool (ER-SAT) accessed below to understand the requirements to undertake this project.

If the tool indicates your project to be research, you’ll be directed to the procedure for submitting a research project to the REB. If the tool indicates your project not to be research, please keep a copy of the completed ER-SAT in the project file and follow the instructions for registering your project.

If you require any support in completing the assessment tool, please contact the Ethics Centre (ext. 7693) for support. If you have any further questions about conducting Quality Improvement work at Sunnybrook, please contact the Department of Quality & Patient Safety at and we will direct your question accordingly.

Click here to begin.