Evaluating conflicts of interest in research presented in CME venues

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Introduction:There is much in the literature regarding the potential for commercial bias in clinical research and in continuing medical education (CME), but no studies were found regarding the potential for bias in reporting original research in CME venues. This pilot study investigated the presence of perceived bias in oral and print content of research findings presented in certified CME activities.Methods:Research presentations at two national primary care CME activities, where authors had self-reported potential conflicts of interest, were peer reviewed and monitored for perceived commercial bias. Blinded and unblinded peer reviewers' and monitors' analyses of bias were compared to assess whether knowledge of potential conflicts of interest affected perceptions of bias.Results:Knowledge of potential conflicts of interest appeared to increase awareness of potential commercial bias with regard to use of a single product in care and assurance that there was reasonable evidence to support the practice recommendation. A perception of the presenter's strong opinion regarding care did not appear to be influenced by knowledge of a potential conflict of interest.Discussion:While limited, by study design, this research detected subjectivity and variability in perceiving commercial bias within research findings presented in CME venues. Further study of these questions is required to guide the resolution of conflicts of interest in research and CME.

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