New Zealand is committed to a world leading health research system. The New Zealand Health Research Strategy 2017–2027 has set the direction for prioritising and investing in health and disability research to address equity issues and improve health outcomes to the benefit of all New Zealanders.

The first step is to ensure the health research system in which we innovate and learn is one grounded in ethics. The National Ethical Standards for Health and Disability Research provide the foundation on which communities and researchers can design and conduct high quality ethical research.

The National Ethical Standards update and expand on previous guidelines issued by the National Ethics Advisory Committee in 2012 and bring together the Ethical Guidelines for Observational Studies and the Ethical Guidelines for Intervention Studies into one document. Having all research ethics guidance in one document makes for easier access for all users.

The Standards are consistent with the strategic priorities of the New Zealand Health Research Strategy which sets out four guiding principles for the health system: research excellence; transparency; partnership with Māori and collaboration for impact.

Research excellence involves embracing and valuing a range of research approaches and methodologies that are fit for purpose and rigorous. Those approaches and methodologies must also meet the underlying need to conduct ethical research that keeps research participants safe from harm from research, protects the privacy of individuals, and respects the mana (status) of families and whānau.

The National Ethical Standards will help all researchers including new researchers and in-training researchers, foster awareness of ethical principles and enhance more rapid translation of research into clinical practice and health services delivery.

The National Ethical Standards for Health and Disability Research will ensure researchers can safeguard the rights and interests of participants in research, while achieving the goal of increasing well-being and contributing to equitable health outcomes for all New Zealanders.

Hon Jenny Salesa
Associate Minister of Health 2019

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