Financial Conflict-of-Interest Policies in Clinical Research: Issues for Clinical Investigators
Boyd, Elizabeth A.
Cho, Mildred K.
Bero, Lisa A.
Academic Medicine 2003 August; 78(8): 769-774
As industry sponsorship of clinical research grows, investigators' personal financial relationships with those sponsors are under increasing scrutiny. The federal government, some states, and many universities have enacted conflict-of-interest policies to monitor and regulate investigators' financial relationships. Little is known, however, about investigators' awareness of or support for these policies or their attitudes toward regulatory efforts. To explore the possible implications of conflict-of-interest policies for clinical researchers, the authors interviewed active clinical investigators at two institutions where the conflict-of-interest policies differ. The most striking feature of the interviews was the range of perceptions and attitudes expressed by clinical investigators and their implications for administrators, professional societies, and policymakers concerned with conflicts of interest. Fewer than half of the interviewed investigators could accurately describe their campus' conflict-of-interest policy. Many investigators felt that professional societies, the public, and individual investigators were appropriate monitors of conflicts of interest. Many investigators recognized the general risks associated with conflicts of interest, but felt that they personally were not at risk. A fundamental challenge facing administrators and policymakers is to demonstrate to all investigators, both clinical and nonclinical, that the potential for bias, pressure and conflict is relevant to all investigators with industry relationships.
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