Competency indices to assess the knowledge, skills and abilities of clinical research professionals

Carlton A. Hornung, Carolynn Thomas Jones, Nancy A. Calvin-Naylor, Jared Kerr, Stephen A. Sonstein, Terri Hinkley, Vicki L. Ellingrod


Background: Clinical research in the 21st century will require a well-trained workforce to ensure that research protocols yield valid and reliable results. Several organizations have developed lists of core competencies for clinical trial coordinators, administrators, monitors, data management/informaticians, regulatory affairs personnel and others.

Methods: We used data collected by the joint task force on the harmonization of core competencies from a survey of research professionals working in the US and Canada to create competency Indices for clinical research professionals. Respondents reported how competent they believed themselves to be on 51 clinical research core competencies.

Results: Factor analyzes identified 20 core competencies that defined a competency index for clinical research professionals—general (CICRP-General, i.e., GCPs) and four sub-indices that define specialized research functions: Medicines Development; Ethics and Participant Safety; Data Management; and Research Concepts.  

Conclusions: These indices can be used to gage an individual’s readiness to perform general as well as more advanced research functions; to assess the education and training needs of research workers; and to evaluate the impact of education and training programs on the competency of research coordinators, monitors and other clinical research team members.


Core competence, Clinical research professional, Self-efficacy, Factor analysis, Competency index, Workforce development

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