***** To join INSNA, visit http://www.insna.org ***** Back in 2001, I raised this issue with my IRB. The crux, as I saw it, was to have them declare it a situation of minimal risk for the third parties. The IRB had no problems with approving our protocol. We conducted the study and no problems arose. Here is the relevant part of the letter I sent my IRB: The issue is that I am conducting a sociometric network study. In such a study, as in contact tracing, subjects tell us who their sex partners and injection partners have been. They then describe various characteristics of these partners and of their relationships with these partners. We later go on to recruit some but not all of these named partners into the study as persons whom we interview and from who we collect blood and urine samples. The issues this raises are whether this makes the named partners "human subjects"; if so, what their risks and rights are; and how we can protect them. It is my impression that although emerging law is not yet definitive, the tendency is to see such named "third parties" as human subjects. This raises a number of difficult questions. It should be clear than an overly-narrow interpretation of their rights and of how these rights can be protected could shut down a number of current fields of study at research universities and non-profit organizations, including studies of current politics, parenting, child rearing, and current history. A session was held on this subject at a recent NIMH-sponsored conference on the Role of Families in Preventing and Adapting to HIV/AIDS. This session was chaired by Dr. Bruce Rapkin of Memorial-Sloan Kettering, who is somewhat of an expert in the field. Participants at this session included researchers, representatives of community HIV/AIDS organizations, outreach workers, and others. After considerable discussion, some degree of consensus emerged that network studies were valuable and should continue to be conducted; and that a good mechanism to do this would be as follows: First, that projects would seek waivers from the requirement that consent be obtained from named partners. This waiver would be on the grounds that they were at minimal risk. As such, it seems to be a valid use of current authority that allows Institutional Review Boards to allow waivers for minimal risk situations. This, I might add, is particularly appropriate here because there could conceivably be risk to the origninal human subject (the namer) if the partner were to learn that he or she had been named as their partner. (In the original proposal and Informed Consent, we spell out mechanisms through which we will prevent such named partners from knowing that they had been recruited as partners, except in cases in which subjects themselves help recruit their partners for us after discussion of potential risks. These procedures resemble those used in the Social Factors and HIV Risk study in the early 1990s, in which no untoward incidents involving harm due to such activities seem to have occurred.) best, sam >>> Tom Valente <[log in to unmask]> 9/13/2007 11:48 PM >>> ***** To join INSNA, visit http://www.insna.org ***** Steve: One thing I told my IRB early on in response to this issue was that we often ask adolescents if their parents smoke and if their siblings smoke, but we don't require parents and siblings to be consented. So there is a precedent for respondents providing data on alters without them being consented. (They did say however, that we could not ask respondents to indicate if their named peers smoked since smoking is illegal and we would be obligated to report on illegal behavior. We could, however, ask if they thought each friend "approved of" smoking.) The second thing we emphasized is that confidentiality and anonymity are 2 different things. We can conduct research that is confidential without being anonymous. As long as we protect confidentiality then anonymity is less important. Then we had to convince them we would convert names to numbers and then discard the names in a safe way. -Tom Steven Corman wrote: >***** To join INSNA, visit http://www.insna.org ***** > >Has anyone made further headway on how to deal with IRB demands that >people named in network questionnaires be considered consenting >subjects? A student just submitted a proposal and got this reply from >our IRB: > > > >"There are spaces in the survey that ask respondents to list the names >of people they know or who influence them. Please add the text 'Please >do not identify any individual by name-use a fake name or title for that >person instead' to each place this occurs. If other people are >identified within the survey then they would qualify as subjects also >and would have to consent to data about them being used." > > > >As discussed at a Sunbelt a couple of years back, this makes network >research impractical to impossible. If I am going to fight them I could >use some ammunition. > > > >Thanks... > > > >Steve > > > >_____________________________________________ > >Steven R. (Steve) Corman > >Professor, Hugh Downs School of Human Communication > >Arizona State University > >http://www.public.asu.edu/~corman/ > > > > > > >_____________________________________________________________________ >SOCNET is a service of INSNA, the professional association for social >network researchers (http://www.insna.org). To unsubscribe, send >an email message to [log in to unmask] containing the line >UNSUBSCRIBE SOCNET in the body of the message. > > > > -- Evaluating Health Promotion Programs (Oxford U. Press): http://www.oup-usa.org/isbn/0195141768.html My personal webpage: http://www-hsc.usc.edu/~tvalente/ The Empirical Networks Project http://ipr1.hsc.usc.edu/networks/ --- Thomas W. Valente, PhD Director, Master of Public Health Program http://www.usc.edu/medicine/mph/ Department of Preventive Medicine School of Medicine University of Southern California 1000 S. Fremont Ave. Building A Room 5133 Alhambra CA 91803 phone: (626) 457-6678 fax: (626) 457-6699 email: [log in to unmask] _____________________________________________________________________ SOCNET is a service of INSNA, the professional association for social network researchers (http://www.insna.org). To unsubscribe, send an email message to [log in to unmask] containing the line UNSUBSCRIBE SOCNET in the body of the message. _____________________________________________________________________ SOCNET is a service of INSNA, the professional association for social network researchers (http://www.insna.org). To unsubscribe, send an email message to [log in to unmask] containing the line UNSUBSCRIBE SOCNET in the body of the message.