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Most Medical Journals Have Conflict of Interest Policies

Still, study suggests definition of conflict and disclosure requirements of authors vary greatly

TUESDAY, Nov. 24 (HealthDay News) -- Most high impact factor journals have publicly available conflict of interest statement policies, but there is a great deal of variation among journals, which could be confusing for authors, according to a study in the Nov. 25 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Jared A. Blum, M.D., of Brown University College of Medicine in Providence, R.I., and colleagues reviewed 256 journals to determine whether or not they had conflict of interest statements, and, if so, how they defined conflict of interest.

The researchers found that policies covering conflict of interest were in place in 89 percent of the journals surveyed. For 54 percent, a signed disclosure statement from authors was mandatory, and 77 percent of journals provided authors with a definition of conflict of interest. Direct financial relationships were the most common criteria for conflict of interest, but 42 percent also asked about personal relationships and paid expert testimony, and 26 percent asked about relationships with other organizations, the investigators note.

"With little uniformity among journal requirements, authors may encounter differing, and at times confusing, requests for disclosure or no requests for disclosure," the authors write. "Readers should consider the potential for undisclosed conflicts of interest in medical journals that lack explicit disclosure requirements. Furthermore, it is important to assess whether detailed conflict of interest policies and mandating signed disclosure statements from all authors increases accurate reporting of author conflicts of interest."

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