Policies on doctors’ declaration of interests in medical organisations: a thematic analysis

Victoria Tzortziou Brown*, Margaret McCartney, Patrycja Talaga, Richard Huxtable, Andrew Papanikitas, Elizabeth David-Barrett

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
5 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

Objectives
There has been growing concern about doctors? conflicts of interests (COIs) but it is unclear what processes and tools exist to enable the consistent declaration and management of such interests. This study mapped existing policies across a variety of organisations and settings to better understand the degree of variation and identify opportunities for improvement.

Design
Thematic analysis.

Setting and participants
We studied the COI policies of 31 UK and international organisations which set or influence professional standards or engage doctors in healthcare commissioning and provision settings.

Main outcome measures
Organisational policy similarities and differences.

Results
Most policies (29/31) referred to the need for individuals to apply judgement when deciding whether an interest is a conflict, with just over half (18/31) advocating a low threshold. Policies differed on the perception of frequency of COI, the timings of declarations, the type of interests that needed to be declared, and how COI and policy breaches should be managed. Just 14/31 policies stated a duty to report concerns in relation to COI. Only 18/31 policies advised COI would be published, while three stated that any disclosures would remain confidential.

Conclusions
The analysis of organisational policies revealed wide variation in what interests should be declared, when and how. This variation suggests that the current system may not be adequate to maintain a high level of professional integrity in all settings and that there is a need for better standardisation that reduces the risk of errors while addressing the needs of doctors, organisations and the public.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)295-306
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of the Royal Society of Medicine
Volume116
Issue number9
Early online date8 Jun 2023
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2023

Keywords

  • Competing interests (ethics)
  • Ethics
  • Health policy
  • Medical careers
  • Professional conduct and regulation

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