Background The capacity of the Research Ethic Committee (REC) members to review research protocol is one of the frequently raised problems. The purpose of this study was to assess training needs of members of research ethics committee in Cameroon regarding research participant protection.
Methods It was a cross-sectional descriptive study conducted in all the regions of Cameroon during the last quarter of the year 2020, assessing training needs of REC members’ ethical evaluation of health research protocols. Data were collected from all eligible REC members by trained and supervised surveyors using a well designed questionnaire integrated in smartphones via ODK-collect. The data were analyzed by estimating proportions with 95% Confidence Interval using the EpiInfo software version 22.214.171.124.
Findings Out of the 79 ethics committee members reached, 64 (81.01%) accepted to participate including 28 (43.75) female. The result showed that,21 (32.81%) of ethics committee members were not trained in research ethics evaluation including 68.75% not exposed to training on research participants protection during clinical trials. A given fraction of respondent was not aware of the existence of key national regulations (25%) and international guidelines like the Helsinki Declaration (32.81%). Participants identified and ranked their priorities in terms of training needs in research participant’s protection, national text regulating research in Cameroon, evaluations’ procedures of research protocol, organization of research in Cameroon, and protection of participants in research involving the transfer of biological materials. The workshop and e-learning courses were seen to be the main accessible source of training.
Conclusion Not all ethics committee members received training on ethical principles regarding research ethics review, review process and monitoring of research protocols, and on ethical issues associated to each study design including clinical trials. These gaps and the needs perceived by participants are to be taken into account when setting up a training program for RECs members on ethical evaluation in Cameroon.