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Quality Improvement Projects

What's the key difference between Quality Improvement (QI) activities, and Research?

Research studies are intended to create new knowledge that can be generalizable to other populations and settings, while QI in health care uses existing knowledge to improve health care outcomes within a local health care institution or setting.

For example, a program has proven to be successful at another hospital and now Southlake Regional Health Centre will be testing it to see if it shows the same positive results locally.  This type of activity would be considered Quality Improvement and would not require Research Ethics Board approval. 

Is there an explicit requirement for review of your project by a Research Ethics Board (REB) as part of its funding arrangements?

Examples of such funding agencies are: the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the Canadian Health Services Research Foundation. Projects funded by these agencies are typically (but not always) considered research and all are required to undergo REB ethics review

If “YES” you will need to complete the applicable Southlake REB Application.

Does your project involve use of a pharmaceutical device, drug or natural health product under Health Canada Food and Drug Act regulations or guidelines?

Under the Health Canada Food and Drug Act regulations or guidelines, REB review is required. NOTE: This applies to the development of a new device, drug, or natural health product or the testing of any of these for a use different from the original approval by Health Canada. This item does not apply to understanding or improving the use of an approved product in the local context.

If “YES” you will need to complete the REB Application for Full Board Review

Is your project intended to develop a better practice within the organization or setting?

This question clarifies if the main goal of your project is to produce findings that can be used to improve practice, program or service delivery within Southlake Regional Health Centre. In other words, the most important reason you are doing this study is to contribute in a timely manner to improving how some aspect of care or service is delivered at this hospital.

If “YES” you will need to complete the QI/Innovation Worksheet

Is your project part of a continuous process of gathering or monitoring data within an organization?


This question helps to assess the fit of your project with the primary focus of quality improvement. The focus of QI is on time-limited projects that target service, program, or process improvements. QI projects are often initiated in response to issues and trends identified through ongoing quality assurance monitoring of care and service provision.

If “YES” you will need to complete the QI/Innovation Worksheet
If you require further assistance with determining the nature of your project, go to QI vs Research FAQ's page or contact the REB Administrator, Sharon Villani, at or 905-895-4521, ext. 6638.
Southlake Regional Health Centre
596 Davis Drive, Newmarket, Ontario   L3Y 2P9
Tel: 905-895-4521   |   TTY: 905-952-3062
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