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Invited Commentary
November 2018

Safeguarding Against Conflicts of Interest in the Surgical Literature

Author Affiliations
  • 1Department of Surgery, David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA (University of California, Los Angeles)
JAMA Surg. 2018;153(11):1002-1003. doi:10.1001/jamasurg.2018.2587

Of all the biases threatening research validity, perhaps most pernicious is that introduced by a financial incentive exerting influence on a researcher. In some circumstances, remuneration from a company may support a researcher’s time used to perform a study, but unfortunately, a substantial body of literature consistently documents bias attributed to these financial payments, which are ubiquitous in medicine. In 2015, payments from industry to physicians and teaching hospitals reported under the Physician Payment Sunshine Act amounted to $7.5 billion.1 In response, the research community has established safeguards against the potential influence of these relationships. A cornerstone of these safeguards is the requirement that researchers disclose any financial ties that may pose a conflict of interest (COI), thereby informing a reader’s interpretation of a study’s findings.

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Conflicts of interest comprise financial interests, activities, and relationships within the past 3 years including but not limited to employment, affiliation, grants or funding, consultancies, honoraria or payment, speaker's bureaus, stock ownership or options, expert testimony, royalties, donation of medical equipment, or patents planned, pending, or issued.

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    1 Comment for this article
    Failure to Disclose occurs very frequently in meetings and lectures
    Richard Reiling, MD | Wright State University School of Medicine
    The concern about COIs in the literature is matched by a similar failure to disclose by lecturers in surgical meetings. I think some of it is just an error to be complete, but at the same time is obvious.