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To Build Trust, HRPPS Should 'Look In The Mirror, Not Out The Window'

Members of institutional review boards (IRBs) and others who oversee human research protection programs (HRPPs) have a variety of training options available to them. But has there ever been a course or conference offering titled, “How to deal with a difficult HRPP?”

That’s a question that occurred to John Baumann, Indiana University (IU) associate vice president for research compliance, who recounted that, in contrast, he has seen plenty of speakers addressing how to handle “difficult researchers.”

Speaking during a session on building trust between IRBs and researchers at the recent annual meeting of Public Responsibility in Medicine and Research (PRIM&R),[1] Baumann noted that he still thinks like a sociologist “even though it’s been a very long time since I’ve practiced sociology.” As such, he described strategies to cultivate trust based on a framework anchored by authority and legitimacy.

Of the types of authority sociologists say exist, Baumann told the PRIM&R audience that HRPPs can base theirs on the rational authority model, “which is built on a system of rules and processes that are implemented with concern with consistency and transparency. The goal of the HRPP is really to be seen as a legitimate authority.”

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