Ethics approval requirements have been assessed by the Queen Mary University of London (QMUL) Research Ethics team and using the Medical Research Council Health Research Authority study research decision tool (Medical Research Council 2017). NHS Research Ethics Committee approval is not required. The following ethical considerations are noted:
- This proposal will recruit from private practitioners, not from NHS practitioners.
- Demographic data will not allow identification of any participants, since questions will be few and very broad.
- k-anonymity calculation can be conducted to ensure demographic data collected is non-identifiable.
- Participants are free to cease involvement at any time, and will not be bound by any form of contract.
- Commitment and distress levels among participants will be monitored.
- The quality of summaries will be carefully monitored, and they will be edited by the student.
Despite participants being self-selecting, there is a small risk that poor clinical practise might be identified among participants. As part of the programme, all participants will be encouraged to reflect upon their practice and will be supported through regular meetings, existing professional support materials including regulatory guidance. Participants will also be encouraged to present their synopses to their peer-groups. Due to the anonymisation measures described above, it will not be possible to identify clinicians who demonstrate poor practises. However, through the repeated use of the attitude survey described in Phase III, changes in attitudes towards evidence-informed practice will be evident. This information will be fed back to the profession, including to the regulator, the professional members' organisation, and the educational institutions.
The student will retain editorial control of all summaries. Only summaries that are deemed of acceptable quality will be made public by the student. Advocate participants may be encouraged to publicise their involvement, but formal outputs will only be made public after this review process.
The advocate handbook produced in Phase III will help ensure the process is well-controlled.