Rethinking conflict of interest

Yesterday at morning report, Dr. Johnson cited an interesting editorial from the NY Times evaluating conflict of interest in clinical research. Austin Frakt, a health economist at Boston University, highlights the notion that financial conflict of interest is only one of a multitude of conflicts/biases existing in research. However, this element is the only conflict of interest consistently reported in mainstream research. Disclosure of conflict of interest can be viewed favorably (bolstering confidence in the setting of transparency) or negatively (drawing concern to the validity of research). Taken together, the author argues that transparent and high quality methodology negates the need for reliance on conflict of interest as a surrogate for research quality.