In light of the COVID 19 outbreak, the TWU HREB advises investigators to modify or delay their research protocols in order to limit personal contacts, laboratory visits, or trips into clinics and hospitals. Specifically, in-person participant interactions must replaced with telephone or online communication. Considerations include the nature of your protocol, the type of participants engaged in the research, and any additional risk that may arise by switching from in-person to virtual communication. Revised participant consents or consent addendums may be required (e.g., to update privacy considerations with use of different communication channels). Where research staff are feeling unwell, care should be taken to stay home to prevent transmission of any illness. If COVID-19 is known or suspected, HealthLink BC protocols should be followed. For up-to-date information regarding COVID-19, please see Health Canada’s website.

While TCPS 2 typically requires review and approval of modifications prior to implementation, an exception can be made where the change is necessary to eliminate an immediate risk to participant(s) (Article 6.15). Such changes may be implemented but must be reported to the HREB at the earliest opportunity (within 5 business days as a guide).

How do I continue my research with human participants during COVID-19?

  1. Identify all in-person interactions required by your existing, HREB-approved research procedures.
  2. Determine whether these interactions can be conducted via telephone or online communication.
    1. If these interactions cannot be adjusted to occur over the telephone or online, you must pause your interactions with human participants until further notice.
    2. If these interactions can be adjusted to occur over the telephone or online, you may modify your procedures accordingly.
  3. Submit an amendment to the HREB outlining the procedural modifications.

Interacting with human participants online

For guidance regarding the implementation of online interaction methods with human participants, please see McMaster University's guide to using videoconferencing platforms for collecting data from human participants.

Zoom-specific guidance is available from UBC and McMaster.