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Helpful Resources

Tips to help move your research forward while minimizing privacy risks.

‎There are a number of secure teleconferencing and video conferencing services you can use for your research studies. Some can also record if you need this option. For more information please visit Provincial Virtual Health's "Virtual Health Toolkit" which details a list of pre-approved options. This list is regularly updated so check back often. 

‎Privacy breaches must be reported to your REB and to the PHSA Information Access & Privacy Office (IAP). Both bodies have careful procedures for helping you to deal with these issues appropriately. If you need help navigating this process, please contact the Research Privacy Advisor for support. 

For more information, please visit the PHSA IAP webpage* and UBC REB Guidance Note webpage and Key Contacts.

*Note: Only accessible when connected to PHSA POD.

A data management plan (DMP) is a document you create that sets out how you will organize, store and share your research data at each stage in your project. A DMP is a living document that can be modified to accommodate changes in the course of your research. A DMP is a high-level plan: no private data is exposed. 

For step-by-step guidance in creating a data management plan, we recommend the following online tools:

  • DMP Assistant (Portage initiative) to create data management plans for Canadian funders.
  • DMP Tool to create data management plans for US funders, such as NIH or NSF.

‎Virtual Health is a patient-centred care model focused on connecting patients, families and providers, using technology to optimize wellness, specialty care and outcomes. Provincial Virtual Health leads and provides strategic direction for the overall Virtual Health initiative across PHSA.

The PHSA Project Sorting Tool is intended to help differentiate between research and non-research projects and direct them to the relevant review bodies (as applicable) within PHSA. Some of the questions are based on the Alberta Innovates. ARECCI Ethics Screening Tool. Questions also reference the BC Centre for Disease Control’s Panorama Data Governance Framework and the tool authored by Mike Catchpole et al. and included in the Field Epidemiology Manual.

As explained in Article 2.5 of the Tri-Council Policy Statement (TCPS),quality assurance and quality improvement studies, program evaluation activities, and performance not constitute research for the purposes of TCPS2 and do not fall within the scope of Research Ethics Board (REB) review. The TCPS2 Interpretations go on to explain that activities that are conducted in support of a public health program or under the jurisdiction of a public health authority and that does not have research as a primary goal, do not fall within the TCPS2 definition of research and do not require REB review.

A helpful infographic (PDF) from BC Cancer Research Ethics Board outlines definitions and approval requirements for research, quality improvement (QI), quality assurance (QA) or quality control (QC) or another type of project. 

However, the Panel on Research Ethics is also clear in its TCPS Interpretations that where in doubt about the applicability of TCPS2 or the requirement for REB review of a particular research project, the researcher should consult the REB. This tool does not replace proper consultations with your REB or other relevant review bodies.

‎There are many ways to notify patients about research opportunities at PHSA. Please contact the Research Privacy Office for more information about the processes used by our various programs. 


UBC offers guidance for researchers on how to access contact information of potential study participants for research related to COVID-19, including post COVID-19 recovery.


You can also recruit study participants with REACH BC


Find participants for your health research study or patient partners to inform your research study design with REACH BC.


Share your study, recruit participants in B.C. and share your study results.



It’s free and easy to use:

1. Create a researcher account on Submit your study posting.

2. Connect with interested volunteers to enrol them in your study.


All research projects are shared in the publicly searchable online REACH BC Directory.


REACH BC is an initiative of Health Research BC to help enable and catalyze health research in B.C. It was developed with joint input from health authorities, university partners and members of the community.


‎Prospective study participants may need more information to know if your study is right for them. Resources by the Panel on Research Ethics ‎(PRE) can help them determine what questions matter to them and can facilitate a conversation with study investigators and staff. Consider printing copies of PRE's brochure and placing them where prospective participants can take a copy, such as in your clinic. Reviewing these resources can help you anticipate questions and concerns participants may have.

Electronic Consent to Improve Access to Research Opportunities        

The Provincial Health Services Authority (PHSA) delivers province-wide specialized health services through its services and programs. PHSA’s research community provides opportunities for patients to access important studies across a wide range of health domains but participation is often limited to those who can attend a face-to-face meeting and sign a paper-based consent form. In the past, researchers have attempted to overcome this participation barrier by asking participants to email, scan, mail, or fax signed consent forms but these methods are cumbersome and less than ideal from a privacy and security perspective. To resolve this issue, the BC Children’s Hospital (BCCH) Research Data Management Team is now offering electronic-consent (e-consent) to researchers across the PHSA. 

E-consent is a platform for consenting research participants either on site or at home using a computer-based consent form rather than traditional paper documentation. Consent forms can be implemented in a REDCap survey via computer, mobile phone, or tablet. The REDCap platform at BCCH is a pre-approved tool that is available to all PHSA researchers and has undergone extensive security and privacy review.  When using the BCCH instance of REDCap, the consent form data are stored on a private, relational MySQL database at the data centre which is located on-site at BC Children’s Hospital in Vancouver, BC. Research studies that use this tool are captured under the current privacy impact assessment and security review and are not required to undergo any additional reviews after Research Ethics Board (REB) review and approval is secured. 

The BCCH Research Data Management Team has already published E-Consent Tips and Tricks on its website to educate the community and both PHSA REBs have been consulted throughout the process to ensure that the new offering is both privacy and ethics compliant. It is important to note that we have not investigated if e-consent would be acceptable for sponsored clinical trials and/or FDA regulated studies. This use is yet to be determined and will be initiated at the request of interested REB partners.

PHSA Research Services supports advancing the use of e-consent as an alternative method of consent for patients across the PHSA. It will help to foster equity in recruitment since it is capable of reaching participants from across the province or with limited mobility with ease. It will also empower patients and their families by encouraging a better understanding of the risks and benefits of research participation by facilitating the production of multimedia patient-centered consent processes.  We hope you will investigate this new tool and how it might work for your research studies. 

This Guidance was written by a Working Group that includes members from across multiple BC public sector originations to outline some of the novel ethics of privacy issues associated with artificial intelligence in the research domain. It provides a list of themes that emerged from a literature review conducted in this area and some recommendations to consider. 

Please reach out to Holly Longstaff, Director of Research Privacy at PHSA if you have any questions about this Guidance. Please note that our Working Group does not endorse, review, or approve new projects or replace or replicate services provided within any BC Health Authority. We are simply available to support research privacy discussions around the implementation of novel technologies within our Health Authorities. 


The UBC Children's and Women's Research Ethics Board (REB), BC Children’s Hospital (BCCH) Research Data Management Team, and your Research Privacy office have drafted this guidance to help support you while you are working from home. Be especially careful with identifiable information.  Limit its transfer to only when it is absolutely necessary and limit the number of team members who can view it and use it. Identifiable data should never leave the Health Authority environment unless this has been approved in advance by the REB.

There are many great resources for those who wish to engage with Indigenous peoples for research. Please see below for some examples: 

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