Management Decisions in Financial Conflicts of Interest

Investigator: Lisa Bero, PhD
Sponsor: NIH National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke

Location(s): United States


Researchers increasingly report personal financial ties to the companies sponsoring their research. Concerns that these ties might influence the direction of research, as well as the analysis and presentation of scientific data, have led to increased efforts to monitor financial conflicts of interest among academic researchers. These policies rarely provide guidance for defining and, particularly, managing conflicts of interest. Consequently, individual institutional committees are left to decide when and how to define conflicts of interest and manage existing conflicts. The overall goal of the proposed project is to describe how universities identify and manage financial conflicts of interest. The University of California has been selected for a series of in-depth case study because the nine campuses represent a microcosm of possible combinations of federal, state, and local disclosure policies and are likely to show variations in their implementation. Using quantitative analyses of archival disclosure data and qualitative analyses of committee, administration and faculty interviews and committee observational data, our specific aims are to: (1) Describe the nature and extent of faculty-industry relations at the nine campuses of the University of California over a ten- year period (1992 - 2002); (2) Describe the management practices used by individual campuses for apparent conflicts of interest over this same period; (3) Describe the processes used by the individual campuses to decide when a potential conflict of interest exists; (4) Define the factors that contribute to the decision-making processes regarding identification and management of financial conflicts of interest; (5) Examine the association of campus variations in policy implementation with faculty attitudes about how financial conflict of interest policies affect their research. We hypothesize that policy implementation will vary with the types of research being conducted, types of relationships with sponsors, and institutional climates. Our findings will allow us to develop a framework for decision-making regarding conflict identification and management.