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Athabasca University

Research Using Health Information Governed by the Health Information Act

Health information in Alberta that is in the custody or under the control of a custodian or health information repository is governed and protected by the Health Information Act (HIA). Researchers who propose to access/use health information in their research must gain ethical approval for the project from a HIA Designated Research Ethics Board (under Part 5, Division 3 of HIA).

The University of Alberta Health Research Ethics Board (HREB) is a designated Research Ethics Board (REB) under HIA, therefore, Athabasca University (AU) has entered into an agreement with the University of Alberta (UofA) whereby AU has delegated the research ethics review of HIA Reviewable Research of AU Researchers, to the Human Research Ethics Board (HREB) established and maintained by the UofA. The intent of such an agreement is to streamline the ethics review process of specialized research (HIA reviewable research) for our researchers, while still ensuring all appropriate and necessary ethical standards and participant protections are upheld.

Athabasca University researchers who are conducting HIA reviewable research, will only have to apply for ethics review through the University of Alberta online research ethics management system (REMO), from the Health Research Ethics Board – Health Panel (HREB3), and will no longer be required to also apply for ethics approval here at AU. The AU Research Ethics Board will accept the review conducted by the UofA HREB without further scrutiny.

The ethics review conducted by the HREB at the University of Alberta may also be accepted by other institutions party to the Research Ethics Reciprocity Agreement in Alberta (College of Physicians and Surgeons, Alberta Health Services, Alberta Innovates Health Solutions, Covenant Health, the University of Alberta and the University of Calgary) which establishes the jurisdiction of the REBs designated to review health research in Alberta and enables those REBs to accept one another’s review and approval.

If you are conducting health research and you wish to discuss whether or not this new review process applies to you, please contact the Research Ethics Officer at 1-800-788-9041, ext. 6718, or by email

Updated February 21 2019 by Research

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