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Research Ethics Board (REB)

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The Nova Scotia Health Research Ethics Board (REB) provides an independent, multidisciplinary ethics review of research involving humans conducted at Nova Scotia Health and any research involving humans identified or recruited at or through Nova Scotia Health. The REB has the authority to approve, reject, request modifications, or terminate any proposed or ongoing research.  

The primary purpose of the REB is to ensure that research under its auspice meets the highest ethical and scientific standards. In carrying out its mandate, the REB is guided by the understanding that 1) research participants warrant special protections and 2) obtaining a reliable answer to a scientific question is an outcome so valued that individual benefits can often be deferred or relinquished altogether.

The Nova Scotia Health Research Ethics Board (REB) has the authority and resources to review research protocols that will be conducted within Nova Scotia Health. Board membership includes diverse representatives from multiple backgrounds, scientific and geographical, and perspectives who meet via video conference every week.

The Nova Scotia Health REB is a paperless enterprise, and the ROMEO database is the digital platform used for online submissions to complete your research ethics review process. We generally aim to have an initial review completed within 10 business days of submission. 

Federal wide Assurance #: IRB000109873 and FWA00025446,  both expire 03/31/2025.


Research vs Quality Improvement vs REB Review Exemption

Sometimes it can be difficult to distinguish which projects are research, which are quality improvement, and which are exempt from REB review. The following tools should help you decide.

  • Consult TCSP2 Chapter 2, Articles 2.1 – 2.5 for research studies that are exempt from REB review.
  • Use the Nova Scotia Health-specific decision tool, created by Quality Improvement and the REB office or the ARRECI tool from Alberta Innovates. For help, see the: 
  • If you’re unsure whether your project requires REB review or if you require a letter from the REB stating that your project is exempt from REB, complete the REB Review Exemption Form on ROMEO. The REB office will provide a response and formal letter within one to two weeks of receiving your form.
    • If you do not have a ROMEO account, the REB office will create an account for you.  
    • Projects that are conducted as quality assurance/improvement, program evaluation or clinical improvement cannot be submitted for publication to research journals or be presented as research at conferences or other events. 
    • Please note that the REB does not grant post-hoc approval for completed quality assurance/improvement, program evaluation or clinical improvement.
    • Quality Improvement projects cannot be presented as research.  
  • Please consult the Quality Improvement and Safety intranet for more information.

Institutional Approvals

All applications submitted to the Nova Scotia Health REB will be subject to an institutional review before being sent to the REB.

Methodology Review

All internal investigator-driven protocols that involve humans and/or their data or their biological samples that submit their REB applications to the Nova Scotia Health REB that have not already undergone external peer project methodological review (ex: CIHR) will receive an institutional methodology review before REB review.  Please see the Reviewer Assessments - Checklist for Methodology Review for more details under Templates and Guides.  

The turnaround time for this review is 10 days.

Privacy Review

All interventional REB applications must submit a Privacy Intake Form signed by a Nova Scotia Health Privacy Officer with their application, which may lead to further privacy requirements before research activities on human participants begin.  A Privacy intake form may be required for non-interventional studies that undergo delegated review at the discretion of the REB co-chair.


REB Reviews

Delegated reviews (non-interventional studies) are reviewed as submitted on a first-come, first serve basis by one board member and one co-chair and do not require a meeting for review. 

Interventional study submissions are placed in the next available meeting on a first come, first served basis. Files are placed in the queue based on a timestamp at submission in ROMEO but queue positions may be affected by incomplete or inadequate applications.  

Please check the meeting schedule page before submitting your application to understand a realistic meeting date for your file review. File review does not guarantee approval and additional information may be required after review to reach approval status. 

Please note: All meetings will be held via video conference.