Conflict Of Interest:an Analysis Of The Efficacy Of Financial Disclosure Policies In Orthopedic Surgery And Professional Schools
Study Designs: Questionnaire, Retrospective review of disclosure listings
Objectives: Quantify the variability in the self-reported disclosures of individual authors presenting at multiple conferences from the same academic year and evaluate how well orthopedic surgeons, were able to interpret and understand disclosure policy statements. Additionally, we will quantify and characterize disclosure policies of professional schools.
Summary of Background Data: In recent years, greater attention has been directed toward determining how financial conflicts of interest may affect the integrity of research methods, data analysis, reporting of results, and even medical education. To address this issue, various financial disclosure policies have been adopted in an attempt to increase the transparency of clinicians. However, there is still a great deal of confusion regarding when and what type of industry relationships need to be disclosed, and at this time there is a paucity of data addressing the consistency of such reporting.
Methods: We compared the disclosure information of authors who presented at three orthopedic society meetings during the same calendar year and quantified discrepancies. We subsequently performed a questionnaire survey; subjects were asked to read each statement in its entirety and identify the statement as either project-specific disclosure or global disclosure. Finally, we reviewed disclosure policies for all 131 accredited medical schools and all 200 accredited law schools were evaluated during August/September 2009.
The results of this review demonstrate that a significant percentage of individuals attending these meetings were found to have inconsistencies in the disclosure information that they had submitted to the different meetings. Forty four percent of those who completed the disclosure survey had three or more incorrect responses. Only 4% of medical had formal guidelines requiring lecturers to disclose these associations to students prior to an educational activity and only 5% had explicit policies directing them to disclose industry affiliations to students before research endeavors.
Conclusions: Orthopedic societies and professional schools have taken an important first step by adopting disclosure policies to manage potential conflict of interests. However, the data presented seriously questions the efficacy of the policies that have been implemented. For these policies to serve their intended purposes a universal policy should be adopted to create full transparency.