CIHR Ethics Performance Measurement Report March 2018

Introduction and Executive Summary

This is the third Ethics Performance Measurement (PM) Report prepared by CIHR. This report is framed by the CIHR Ethics Action Plan, and it details the results of the performance indicators set out in the Ethics PM Strategy as endorsed by the CIHR Standing Committee on Ethics (SCE).

Why is CIHR measuring its performance in ethics?

CIHR has a legislated mandate to:

  • promote, assist and support health research that meets the highest standards of ethics,
  • foster the discussion of ethical issues and the application of ethical principles to health research, and
  • monitor, analyze and evaluate issues, including ethical issues, pertaining to health and health research.

CIHR developed an Ethics Action Plan which CIHR’s SCE finalized and approved in January 2015.

An Ethics PM Strategy was subsequently developed with the advice and endorsement of the CIHR SCE to measure progress in meeting CIHR’s commitments under the Action Plan.

The Ethics PM Strategy was refreshed and streamlined in 2018 to align with CIHR’s Departmental Results Framework and Treasury Board Secretariat policies.

CIHR’s Ethics Action Plan has six priorities:

  • Strengthen ethics leadership through shared accountability mechanisms.
  • Ensure ethics considerations inform decisions related to priority-setting, programs, policies, processes and partnerships.
  • Nurture and monitor research capacity in ethics in Canada and its application within priority target areas.
  • Capture and assess the impact of ethics activities within the Open Programs and strategic initiatives.
  • Develop and implement a new ethics communication strategy.
  • Review the ethics leadership model and action plan after five years.

What applications and publications do we track?

Relevance to ethics

  • Long description
    • Ethics
    • Socio-cultural factors related to ethics
    • Law

What are some key results?

Relating to Ethics Action Plan commitments to:

  • Strengthen ethics leadership through shared accountability mechanisms
  • Ensure ethics considerations inform decisions

Performance:

In 2017-2018:

  • The majority of CIHR’s governance (9/12) and advisory bodies (15/23) had members who brought an ethics perspective.
  • CIHR undertook action on both new issues brought to the Standing Committee on Ethics (SCE) for advice in 2017: the draft Tri-Agency Research Data Management Policy, and Cannabis research partnerships. In addition, in follow up to discussion with attendees at the Canadian Bioethics Society conference in May 2017, a formal observer position for a trainee was established on the SCE.
  • CIHR staff and Institutes participated in 14 national or international meetings relevant to ethics.

Relating to the Ethics Action Plan commitment to:

  • Nurture and monitor research capacity in ethics

Performance:

Expenditure amounts since 2015 are shown in the table below.

Fiscal year
(April
to
March)
Primary Focus
Ethics Law Socio-cultural factors related to ethics
$ in millions % of CIHR total $ in millions % of CIHR total $ in millions % of CIHR total
2017-2018 2.35 .23 .69 .07 13.30 1.28
2016-2017 2.64 .26 .69 .07 16.02 1.56
2015-2016 3.59 .37 .56 .06 16.17 1.66

Examples of funded research exploring ethical, legal, or socio-cultural aspects of health and health research:

  • The Role of Metis Women Kinship Systems in Achieving Family, Community and Land Wellness. Janice Cindy Gaudet. University of Alberta.
  • Ethics, Efficiency and Patient Burden in Drug Development. Jonathan Kimmelman, McGill University
  • Filling the Void: Public engagement around a new model for access to research resources. Kimberlyn McGrail, University of British Columbia.
  • Legalization of Recreational Cannabis Use in Canada: A knowledge synthesis. Mark Eisenberg, Lady Davis Institute for Medical Research (Montreal).

Relating to the Ethics Action Plan commitment to:

  • Capture and assess the impact of ethics activities within the Open Programs and Strategic Initiatives

Performance:

  • CIHR annually assesses the “observable influence”Footnote 1 of publications from CIHR-supported research by tracking citations in academic literature, and in policy-making and decision-making documents.
  • In the academic literature, 90.2% of ethics-related publications since 2008 from CIHR-supported research were cited at least once.
  • When looking at observable influence beyond academia, 13.3% of ethics-related publications in the period 2008 to 2014 from CIHR-supported research were referenced in policy-setting and decision-making documents.

Summary

CIHR is committed to supporting and promoting health research that meets the highest international standards of excellence and ethics. The agency continues to monitor ethics and related content within its governance and advisory structures; its leadership activities at the national level; and its investments in ethics-related grants and awards. At present, ethics representation within the agency is a demonstrable strength. Ethics research is a small part of CIHR’s overall investments, but still has influence in academic, decision-making and policy-setting spheres.

For a copy of the full report, please direct all inquiries to the CIHR Contact Centre. Officers are available Monday to Friday, 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. ET.

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