Preliminary ethical review of research

The task of the Research Ethics Committee of Kela is to conduct, upon request, an ethical review of research projects dealing with human sciences and to issue statements concerning human-related register, survey and interview research that relies on individually identifiable data provided by Kela. The Research Ethics Committee does not review research projects that fall within the scope of the Medical Research Act (488/1999 Laki lääketieteellisestä tutkimuksesta).

Kela’s research organisation is committed to compliance with the Ethical principles of research in the humanities and social and behavioural sciences and proposals for ethical reviews as issued by the Finnish Advisory Board on Research Integrity (TENK) appointed by the Ministry of Education and Culture. Kela’s Research Ethics Committee holds no legal position. The tasks of the Committee do not include the granting of official approvals to carry out research projects.

When is it necessary to apply for a statement from Kela’s Research Ethics Committee?

The decision whether to seek a preliminary ethical review must be made by the researchers themselves, who should then request a statement from the Research Ethics Committee. The researcher can also request a statement from the Ethics Committee when so required by a research funding agency or co-operative partner, or if the results of the research are to be published in a scientific journal that requires a preliminary ethical review. The Committee can also deal with any particular ethical issues that arise during the research process.

A statement on research is requested from Kela’s Research Ethics Committee, for instance, in the following cases:

  • Kela is providing individually identifiable data for research purposes (for examples, for an interview study).
  • A sample population for a questionnaire survey is being retrieved from Kela’s registers and the research involves the gathering of sensitive information.
  • Kela’s register data is being combined with data retrieved from other sources( such as questionnaire or interview material).

When is a statement from Kela’s Research Ethics Committee not necessary?

A statement from Kela’s Research Ethics Committee is generally not necessary in the following cases:

  • The study utilises unidentifiable register data and a statement is not required for any other reason
  • The research project has been reviewed by another ethical body and no other party requires a separate review by Kela’s Research Ethics Committee.
  • The project is a development project that does not involve any research nor is it an ethical review required for any other reason.
  • The matter concerns a final project or thesis for a qualification or degree and a statement is not required for any special reason, for instance, by Kela as a provider of data. The researcher working on the thesis must apply for a review together with the thesis supervisor.

Committee members and meeting dates

Committee members, 1 August 2019–31 December 2021

Riitta Luoto, Medical Director, Kela (Chairperson)
Anna-Kaisa Tuovinen, Researcher, Kela (Secretary)
Regina Ollila, Data Protection Officer, Kela
Minna-Liisa Luoma, Research Manager, National Institute for Health and Welfare
Miia Saarikallio-Torp, Researcher, Kela (Deputy Chair)
Mikael Sallinen, Programme Director, Finnish Institute of Occupational Health
Riitta Seppänen-Järvelä, Research Manager, Kela
Helena Siipi, Senior Researcher, University of Turku
Päivi Tillman, Researcher, Kela
Lauri Virta, Lead Research Physician, Kela

Committee meetings in 2019

Meeting date Deadline for statement requests (by 4 p.m.)
14 Jan 2 Jan
11 Feb 28 Jan
24 Mar 10 Mar
28 Apr 14 Apr
26 May 12 May
16 Jun 2 Jun
25 Aug 11 Aug
29 Sep 15 Sep
27 Oct 13 Oct
24 Nov 10 Nov
15 Dec 1 Dec

Instructions for submitting statement requests

Detailed instructions on drafting and submitting a statement can be found from this link (PDF). 

Submitting a statement request

The statement request and necessary appendices shall be sent as a single PDF file via e-mail no later than 2 weeks before the meeting of the Committee to:

The Committee can only process written statement requests that arrive prior to the stated deadline.

Instructions on resubmission of the statement request

Kela’s Research Ethics Committee may, if necessary, return an statement request and ask that it be resubmitted by the applicant once the corrections and additions required by Kela have been made. As the author modifies the application documents, the Committee requests that all changes be stated clearly in the following manner:

  1. all changes made must be listed point by point in the reply or cover letter
  2. the changes shall also be highlighted in the request for a statement and plan documents.