1.5.4 Prevention of Conflict of Interest
A. Background & Definitions
Conflicts of interest are defined as circumstances that create a risk that professional judgments or actions regarding a primary interest will be unduly influenced by a secondary interest.
Primary interests include promoting and protecting the integrity of research, the quality of medical education, and the welfare of patients.
Secondary interests include not only financial interests but also other interests, such as the pursuit of professional advancement and recognition and the desire to do favors for friends, family, students, or colleagues. Conflict of interest policies typically focus on financial gain because it is relatively more objective, fungible, and quantifiable. Financial gain can therefore be more effectively and fairly regulated than other secondary interests.
The severity of a conflict of interest depends on (1) the likelihood that professional decisions made under the relevant circumstances would be unduly influenced by a secondary interest and (2) the seriousness of the harm or wrong that could result from such an influence. The likelihood of undue influence is affected by the value of the secondary interest, its duration and depth, and the extent of discretion that the individual has in making important decisions.
B. Guidance & Expectations
- Financial support should be available to finance quality resources for the next three years.
- Management and Process Owner shall protect the research unit team against actions that would diminish impartiality and operational intergrity.
- The Process Owner and the research unit team need to be free from any undue commercial, financial, or other pressures and influences that may adversely affect the quality of their work.
- Summary tables with conflict of interest examples can be very useful as they may help making a decision in some cases. Yet, such tables should not be viewed as exhaustive checklists that include all potential examples and therefore replace the need to understand what may constitute a conflict of interest. Thus, every situation should be treated individually.
- The focus should be on preventive measures such as transparent disclosures.
- Conflict of Interest in Medical Research, Education, and Practice (2009)
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