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Education of research ethics for clinical investigators with Moodle tool

Arja Halkoaho1*, Mari Matveinen2, Ville Leinonen34, Kirsi Luoto2 and Tapani Keränen56

Author Affiliations

1 Research Ethics Committee/Science Service Center, Kuopio University Hospital, P.O BOX 100, Kuopio FI-70029 KYS, Finland

2 Science Service Center, Kuopio University Hospital, P.O BOX 100, Kuopio FI-70029, KYS, Finland

3 Department of Neurosurgery, Kuopio University Hospital, Kuopio, Finland

4 Institute of Clinical Medicine University of Eastern Finland, Kuopio, Finland

5 School of Pharmacy, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Eastern Finland, Kuopio, Finland

6 Department of Neurology, Kanta-Häme Central Hospital, Hämeenlinna, Finland

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BMC Medical Ethics 2013, 14:53  doi:10.1186/1472-6939-14-53

Published: 12 December 2013



In clinical research scientific, legal as well as ethical aspects are important. It is well known that clinical investigators at university hospitals have to undertake their PhD-studies alongside their daily work and reconciling work and study can be challenging. The aim of this project was to create a web based course in clinical research bioethics (5 credits) and to examine whether the method is suitable for teaching bioethics. The course comprised of six modules: an initial examination (to assess knowledge in bioethics), information on research legislation, obtaining permissions from authorities, writing an essay on research ethics, preparing one’s own study protocol, and a final exam. All assignments were designed with an idea of supporting students to reflect on their learning with their own research.


57 PhD-students (medical, nursing and dental sciences) enrolled and 46 completed the course. Course evaluation was done using a questionnaire. The response rate was 78%. Data were analyzed using quantitative methods and qualitative content analysis.


The course was viewed as useful and technically easy to perform. Students were pleased with the guidance offered. Personal feedback from teachers about students’ own performance was seen advantageous and helped them to appreciate how these aspects could be applied their own studies. The course was also considered valuable for future research projects.


Ethical issues and legislation of clinical research can be understood more easily when students can reflect the principles upon their own research project. Web based teaching environment is a feasible learning method for clinical investigators.

Bioethics; Research ethics; Web learning; Legislation