Background: The formulation and implementation of national ethical regulations to protect research participants is fundamental to ethical conduct of research. Ethics education and capacity are inadequate in developing African countries. This study was designed to develop a module for online training in research ethics based on the Nigerian National Code of Health Research Ethics and assess its ease of use and reliability among biomedical researchers in Nigeria.
Methodology: This was a three-phased evaluation study. Phase one involved development of an online training module based on the Nigerian Code of Health Research Ethics (NCHRE) and uploading it to the Collaborative Institutional Training Initiative (CITI) website while the second phase entailed the evaluation of the module for comprehensibility, readability and ease of use by 45 Nigerian biomedical researchers. The third phase involved modification and re-evaluation of the module by 30 Nigerian biomedical researchers and determination of test-retest reliability of the module using Cronbach's alpha.
Results: The online module was easily accessible and comprehensible to 95% of study participants. There were significant differences in the pretest and posttest scores of study participants during the evaluation of the online module (p = 0.001) with correlation coefficients of 0.9 and 0.8 for the pretest and posttest scores respectively. The module also demonstrated excellent test-retest reliability and internal consistency as shown by Cronbach's alpha coefficients of 0.92 and 0.84 for the pretest and posttest respectively.
Conclusion: The module based on the Nigerian Code was developed, tested and made available online as a valuable tool for training in cultural and societal relevant ethical principles to orient national and international biomedical researchers working in Nigeria. It would complement other general research ethics and Good Clinical Practice modules. Participants suggested that awareness of the online module should be increased through seminars, advertisement on government websites and portals used by Nigerian biomedical researchers, and incorporation of the Code into the undergraduate medical training curriculum.