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Commentary: TRANSPARENCY IN HEALTH CARE |

The Role of Conflict of Interest in Reporting of Scientific Information

Richard S. Irwin, MD, FCCP
Author and Funding Information

From The University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester, MA.

Correspondence to: Richard S. Irwin, MD, FCCP, University of Massachusetts Medical School, Division of Pulmonary, Allergy, and Critical Care Medicine, 55 Lake Ave North, Worcester, MA 01655; e-mail: irwinr@ummhc.org


Dr. Irwin is the Editor in Chief of CHEST. While CHEST is the official journal of the American College of Chest Physicians (ACCP) and the ACCP is the publisher, he has editorial independence from the publisher.

Reproduction of this article is prohibited without written permission from the American College of Chest Physicians (www.chestjournal.org/site/misc/reprints.xhtml).

For related articles see pages 295 and 304


© 2009 American College of Chest Physicians


Chest. 2009;136(1):253-259. doi:10.1378/chest.09-0890
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We have come to appreciate that scientific misconduct is often not intuitively obvious to those who perpetrate it. Therefore, this commentary has been written to review what we know about the role of conflict of interest (COI) in the reporting of scientific information and to challenge those of us in educator roles to do a better job in mentoring our trainees, junior faculty, and associates on what is right and wrong; what is ethical and unethical. The review addresses the following questions: (1) Why has the public trust in the clinical research industry been eroded? (2) How often is the ethical concept of equipoise violated in industry-sponsored randomized controlled clinical trials? (3) How often are negative trials underreported and favorable trials selectively or redundantly over-reported in industry-sponsored randomized controlled clinical trials? (4) What is being done to restore the public trust? While there are multiple strategies to mitigate COI in the reporting of scientific information, we have come to appreciate that the disclosure of potential conflicts of interest is not enough. It is our hope that this article and its contents can serve as a stimulus for the development and incorporation of an educational series in all training programs on what is ethical and unethical in the conducting and reporting of scientific studies.

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