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Human Subjects Division (HSD)

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Minimal Risk (Expedited) Review

Minimal Risk generally means that the probability and magnitude of physical or psychological harm anticipated in the research are not greater in and of themselves than those ordinarily encountered in daily life, or in routine medical, dental, or psychological examinations. In order to be considered Minimal Risk, research must meet this definition and fall within one or more of the federally-defined categories that qualify for “Expedited” review. The definition of "minimal risk" is somewhat different for research involving prisoners of the Department of Defense.

 

Under an expedited review procedure, (see SOP Expedited Review) the review may be carried out by the IRB chair or by one or more experienced reviewers designated by the chair from among members of the IRB. The WORKSHEET Expedited Review Eligibility is a tool that describes the expedited categories and additional details about the definition of "minimal risk".

Related Questions And Answers

  • Does all research go through the same review process?

    No. There are three types of research, each of which receives a different level of review.

    1. Exempt Research

      The University of Washington applies the federal regulations and guidance about exemption to all UW human subjects research, regardless of funding or funding source. The staff of the Human Subjects Division (HSD) are the only individuals authorized to determine that research activity is exempt from federal regulations. In addition to the federal criteria, HSD requires that exempt research involve no more than minimal risk and that interactions with subjects must include some type of consent process that provides the subjects with basic information about the research.

      Researchers do not have the authority to determine that their own research qualifies for exempt status. The research may not begin until the researcher has received notification from HSD that the research qualifies for exemption. Exempt status is granted for a five-year period.

    2. Minimal Risk Research

      Research falling into minimal risk categories is reviewed by a subcommittee of the IRB (use form UW 13-11). You may also hear the term "expedited review" used in conjunction with the review of minimal risk research; describing the ability of the research to be reviewed by a subcommittee - not that the review process is necessarily faster.

    3. More than Minimal Risk Research

      Research falling into categories considered to be of more than minimal risk requires review by the full Committee (use form UW 13-11).

  • How long does the IRB review process take?

    Multiple factors affect the time required for IRB review. They include:

    • type of application
    • level of review (e.g., exempt, minimal risk, full committee)
    • complexity of the study
    • involvement of other compliance offices or institutions
    • quality and completeness of the application when first submitted

    We encourage researchers to plan for sufficient time for review based on the research and their particular situation. Here are some general recommendations based on HSD's current workload:

    • Allocate adequate preparation time before submission, in most cases a minimum of two weeks to one month.
    • For full IRB review, plan for at least 12 to 16 weeks for the review and approval process.
    • For Minimal Risk review, plan for at least 6 to 8 weeks.
    • For Exempt review, plan for at least 2 to 3 weeks.