Conflict of interest disclosures are important for the transparency of surgical research and impact its validity. Nevertheless, the critical information is often missing.
A conflict of interest exists whenever two or more interests are present that could influence each other. For example, the primary interest of medical research is the identification of the optimal therapy for a given group of patients. The primary interest of a manufacturer in the healthcare sector is to generate profit. Clearly, these two interests have the potential to generate a conflict. Such conflicts of interest may lead to biased design of studies or unbalanced interpretation of study results. Therefore, a systematic evaluation was made and published in the Open Access journal Innovative Surgical Science. The study focused on evaluating the reporting of potential conflicts of interest in full publications of surgical randomised controlled trials (RCTs).
In about 21% of the found studies, conflicts of interest were disclosed i.e. a statement was made with the publication whether there were or there were no other interests. However, in half of the cases the information provided was insufficient to permit conclusions regarding possible influence on the studies.
During the last decades, more and more studies provided disclosure of potential conflicts of interest and about one of three studies did so during the latest period of 2005-2014. The most important conflict of interest is the industrial sponsorship of a study. However, only 20% of all industry-funded studies took this fact into account and disclosed this conflict of interest. Overall, over the past three decades, only every 10th study provided appropriate information on conflicts of interest.
Why is this important?
Transparency is crucial for the reliability of evidence-based medicine i.e. physicians rely on data from studies and treat their patients according to it. If the data is skewed by secondary interests, patients may be treated wrong or in an unnecessary fashion. Therefore, there is an urgent need for the full disclosure of all conflicts of interest in surgical publishing and for transparency regarding cooperation between universities and industrial partners.
Read the original article here:
Pascal Probst, Kathrin Grummich, Ulla Klaiber, Phillip Knebel, Alexis Ulrich, Markus W. Büchler, Markus K. Diener: Conflicts of interest in randomised controlled surgical trials: systematic review and qualitative and quantitative analysis, 22.04.2016