Conflict of interest in oncology publications

A survey of disclosure policies and statements

Authors

  • Aaron S. Kesselheim MD, JD, MPH,

    Corresponding author
    1. Division of Pharmacoepidemiology and Pharmacoeconomics, Department of Medicine, Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA
    • Division of Pharmacoepidemiology and Pharmacoeconomics, 1620 Tremont St., Suite 3030, Boston, MA 02120

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    • Fax: (617) 232-8602

  • Joy L. Lee MPH,

    1. Division of Pharmacoepidemiology and Pharmacoeconomics, Department of Medicine, Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA
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  • Jerry Avorn MD,

    1. Division of Pharmacoepidemiology and Pharmacoeconomics, Department of Medicine, Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA
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  • Amber Servi BA,

    1. Division of Pharmacoepidemiology and Pharmacoeconomics, Department of Medicine, Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA
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  • William H. Shrank MD, MSHS,

    1. Division of Pharmacoepidemiology and Pharmacoeconomics, Department of Medicine, Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA
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  • Niteesh K. Choudhry MD, PhD

    1. Division of Pharmacoepidemiology and Pharmacoeconomics, Department of Medicine, Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA
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Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Disclosure of conflicts of interest in biomedical research is receiving increased attention. The authors sought to define current disclosure policies and how they relate to disclosure statements provided by authors in major oncology journals.

METHODS:

The authors identified all oncology journals listed in the Thomson Institute for Scientific Information and sought their policies on conflict-of-interest disclosure. For a subset of journals with an Impact Factor >2.0, they catalogued the number and type of articles and the details of the published disclosures in all papers from the 2 most recent issues.

RESULTS:

Disclosure policies were provided by 112 of 131 journals (85%); 99 (88%) of these requested that authors disclose conflicts of interest (mean Impact Factor for these journals: 4.6), whereas the remaining 13 (12%) did not (mean Impact Factor: 2.9). Ninety-three journals (94%) required financial disclosure, and 42 (42%) also sought nonfinancial disclosures. For a subset of 52 higher-impact journals (Impact Factor >2.0), we reviewed 1734 articles and identified published disclosures in 51 journals (98%). Many of these journals (31 of 51, 61%) included some disclosure statement in >90% of their articles. Among 27 journals that published editorials/commentaries, only 14 (52%) included disclosures with such articles. There was no publication of any nonfinancial conflicts of interest in any article reviewed.

CONCLUSIONS:

Disclosure policies and the very definition of conflict of interest varied considerably among journals. Although most journals had some policy in this area, a substantial proportion did not publish disclosure statements consistently, with deficiencies particularly among editorials and commentaries. Cancer 2012;. © 2011 American Cancer Society.

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