Clinical Researchers Resist Full Financial Disclosure

Instead, those interviewed suggest a better approach for such disclosures would be to offer potential research participants a range of dollars or even use adjectives such as a "substantial investment" to describe the extent of a researcher's financial interest. The study, reveals a key reason for the reluctance among researchers to share the full dollar amount: the belief that because potential research subjects may lack the sophistication to put conflicts of interest in context, they may overestimate the influence of money on the researcher's behaviour and possibly refuse to participate.

All 40 of the researchers, conflict-of-interest committee chairs, and institutional review board chairs interviewed for the study say that when a financial interest does exist, that interest should be disclosed, albeit in limited ways short of full disclosure. For example, some participants in the study believed that the sheer complexity required by full disclosures could detract attention away from the actual decision of whether or not to participate in the trial itself.

Such financial interests often range from intellectual property interests to consulting fees to other special arrangements. Others believe that full disclosure should be made to include the dollar amount and source of funding, but in a straightforward, simple manner to minimize confusion among potential clinical trial participants. “The latest results tell us that researchers and their officials charged with oversight want to disclose financial conflicts of interest, and almost always for the right reasons, they just disagree on how to do it," said Jeremy Sugarman M.D., the Harvey M. Meyerhoff Professor of Bioethics and Medicine at The Berman Bioethics Institute at Johns Hopkins University.; Source: Johns Hopkins University