This pilot study reports on a survey regarding recruitment, appointment, and training of members for health care ethics committees (HCECs).
Background: Past studies have examined HCECs, but have focused on the roles of the committees and the broad makeup of membership. Thus, our study fills an important knowledge gap in trends of membership recruitment and appointment processes employed by HCECs to comprise their membership. Methods: We posted our survey on several bioethics listservs between June and August 2015. Of the 103 respondents that started the survey, 59 were eligible for inclusion based on our criteria. We analyzed survey results descriptively and qualitatively. Results: Overall we found no unifying standards of recruitment or appointment across the 59 respondents. Additionally, while responding committees varied in the professional backgrounds and attributes they valued in potential members, we found that most respondents valued traits of the applicants over specific knowledge or skills. Conclusions: This study provides a first look into how HCECs recruit members. Future research is needed to better understand the complexities of the issues discovered during this study, given that the HCEC members appointed are the individuals who fulfill committee obligations.