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Overcoming a Primary Barrier to Practice-Based Research

Access to an Institutional Review Board (IRB) for Independent Ethics Review


Practice-based research is an important means of bridging the gap between the science and practice of psychotherapy. Unfortunately, numerous barriers exist for clinicians who want to conduct research in practice settings. One specific barrier that has received minimal attention in the literature—lack of access to institutional review board (IRB) oversight for independent ethics review—can impede the ability to carry out and disseminate research projects. This article identifies reasons that practice-based researchers may want to seek IRB review even when not required, reviews the pros and cons of a range of strategies that some practice-based researchers have used to try and address lack of access to an IRB, and describes a novel solution for this problem: the creation of the Behavioral Health Research Collective IRB, a nonprofit IRB whose mission is to provide ethical oversight to practice-based researchers. The authors describe their experiences of developing and running the Behavioral Health Research Collective IRB, with the intent of providing a model for other professionals to create similar mechanisms for supporting practice-based research.

Keywords: practice-based research, institutional review board, ethics review

Supplemental materials:

Travis Osborne, Ph.D., ABPP is the Director of the Anxiety Center and Director of Research and Outcomes Monitoring at the Evidence Based Treatment Centers of Seattle (EBTCS), an outpatient specialty care clinic. He specializes in exposure-based treatments for anxiety, obsessive-compulsive, and trauma and related disorders and is board certified in Behavioral and Cognitive Psychology by the American Board of Professional Psychology (ABPP). Dr. Osborne is a co-founder and the Chair of the Behavioral Health Research Collective (BHRC) Institutional Review Board, whose mission is to provide ethical review for mental health professionals conducting practice-based research in real world settings. He is also a member of the Committee on Science in Practice for the Society for a Science of Clinical Psychology (SSCP).

Cite This Article

Osborne, T. L., & Luoma, J. B. (2018). Overcoming a barrier to practice-based research: Access to an Institutional Review Board (IRB) for independent ethics review. Psychotherapy, 55(3), 255-262. doi: 10.1037/pst0000166



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