Guidelines International Network: Principles for Disclosure of Interests and Management of Conflicts in Guidelines
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Conflicts of interest (COIs) have been defined by the American Thoracic Society as "a divergence between an individual's private interests and his or her professional obligations such that an independent observer might reasonably question whether the individual's professional actions or decisions are motivated by personal gain, such as direct financial, academic advancement, clinical revenue streams, or community standing." In the context of guideline development, the concerns are not simply about identifying and disclosing direct financial or indirect COIs. Despite this recognition, the management of COIs in guidelines is often unsatisfactory. In response to requests from its international membership and informed by existing syntheses of the evidence and policies of international organizations, the Guidelines International Network Board of Trustees developed guidance on the disclosure of interests and management of COIs. Current approaches are relatively similar throughout the guideline development community, with an increasing recognition of the importance of disclosing and managing indirect COIs. Although there are differences in detail among the approaches, the similarities allow for the formulation of 9 core principles for managing COIs. In formulating these principles, the Guidelines International Network Board of Trustees recognizes that COIs cannot be totally avoided when panel members are being chosen for certain guidelines or in certain settings; thus, the important issue is the management of COIs in a fair, judicious, transparent manner.
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