Guideline Funding and Conflicts of Interest: Article 4 in Integrating and Coordinating Efforts in COPD Guideline Development. An Official ATS/ERS Workshop Report

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Abstract

Introduction:

Professional societies, like many other organizations around the world, have recognized the need to use more rigorous processes to ensure that healthcare recommendations are informed by the best available research evidence. This is the fourth of a series of 14 articles prepared to advise guideline developers in respiratory and other disease. It focuses on commercial funding of guidelines and managing conflict of interest effectively in the context of guidelines.

Methods:

In this review, we addressed the following topics and questions. (1) How are clinical practice guidelines funded? (2) What are the risks associated with commercial sponsorship of guidelines? (3) What relationships should guideline committee members be required to disclose? (4) What is the most efficient way to obtain complete and accurate disclosures? (5) How should disclosures be publicly shared? (6) When do relationships require management? (7) How should individual conflicts of interest be managed? (8) How could conflict of interest policies be enforced? The literature review included a search of PubMed and other databases for existing systematic reviews and relevant methodological research. Our conclusions are based on available evidence, consideration of what guideline developers are doing, and workshop discussions.

Results and Discussion:

Professional societies often depend on industry funding to support clinical practice guideline development. In addition, members of guideline committees frequently have financial relationships with commercial entities, are invested in their intellectual work, or have conflicts related to clinical revenue streams. No systematic reviews or other rigorous evidence regarding best practices for funding models, disclosure mechanisms, management strategies, or enforcement presently exist, but the panel drew several conclusions that could improve transparency and process.

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