Conflict of Interest in Medical Research, Education, and Practice

Type: Consensus Study
Topics: Biomedical and Health Research, Public Health, Education
Board: Board on Health Sciences Policy

Activity Description

Financial conflicts of interest pose many challenges to health care professionals. They raise concerns about the objectivity and trustworthiness of research conduct and publications, the prudent management of scientific investigations and other activities in the public interest, and the commitment of health care professionals to the best interests of patients. In recent years the media has highlighted failures of individuals and institutions to disclose and appropriately manage financial ties with industry (including pharmaceutical, medical device, medical supply, and insurance companies). These failures contribute to questions about whether industry has undue influence in research and other activities.

As medical research, professional education, health care, and institutional management have become vastly more complex and expensive, the task of managing conflicts of interest has become more challenging. Industry is now the leading funder of medical research, and much research is conducted in nonacademic settings. Industry also is involved in funding the development of evidence reviews and practice guidelines that are intended to help translate research findings into practice. Such guidelines may shape clinical choices and may even be used to evaluate professional or institutional performance.

The IOM Committee on Conflict of Interest in Medical Research, Education, and Practice has prepared a report that:

  • examines financial relationships with industry and conflicts of interest in medical research, education, practice, and practice guideline development and
  • provides analysis and recommendations to inform the design and implementation of policies for the identification and management of conflicts of interest in these contexts without damaging constructive collaborations with industry.

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