Academic journal article The Hastings Center Report

Is Disclosure Helpful?

Academic journal article The Hastings Center Report

Is Disclosure Helpful?

Article excerpt

The Report has always relied on the candor of strangers. As we began assembling this issue's articles on conflicts of interest, however, we decided that the time had come to take more formal measures to ensure that our own pages are reasonably clear of taint. Starting with this issue, we are asking authors to review and sign a form certifying that they have disclosed all financial interests that may compromise their manuscript's objectivity and that they have identified all financial and material support that they received for research reported in the manuscript. In a letter we send to prospective authors, we summarize the policy by asking authors to pose themselves the question, Is there anything that might cause readers to second-guess my objectivity if it were to emerge after publication?

We adopt our new policy somewhat reluctantly. In some ways, we (meaning the members of the editorial board--myself, Bette Crigger, Tom Murray, Erik Parens, and Bruce Jennings) prefer our former trust-based arrangement. We have felt that given the field, it was implicit that authors ought to identify any conflicts that might have affected them. That trust alone is not enough, that increasingly it is necessary to take recourse in contractual relationships, is perhaps to be lamented, although it is arguably a natural consequence of the field's maturation and the centrality of its role in health care and medical research.

Further, we believe that publishing disclosures could have the effect of perpetuating the problem posed by conflicts of interest. …

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