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May 2, 2017

The Complex and Multifaceted Aspects of Conflicts of Interest

Author Affiliations
  • 1Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Nashville, Tennessee
JAMA. 2017;317(17):1765-1767. doi:10.1001/jama.2017.3435

Judgment and integrity are 2 hallmarks of professionalism. Conflict of interest (COI), bias, and dishonesty represent a spectrum of threats to judgment and integrity.

COI, a conflict between a professional responsibility and a personal interest, is at one end of this threat spectrum. COI creates a risk of bias. Bias, a prejudice for or against something, is in the middle of this spectrum. If a COI results in bias, the bias may affect a professional judgment. Dishonesty is deceit or fraud. Dishonesty is at the opposite end of this spectrum from COI. Each of these threats exists on a continuum. COI may be present or perceived. Bias may be conscious or unconscious. Dishonesty may be intentional or unintentional.