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Account Res. 2004 Apr-Jun;11(2):141-59.

Disclosing conflicts of interest to research subjects: an ethical and legal analysis.

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1
National Institute of Environmental Sciences, National Institute of Health, Box 12233, MD NH06, Research Triangle Park, NC 27709, USA. resnik@niehs.nih.gov

Abstract

In this article, I examine the ethical and legal issues related to disclosure of conflicts of interest to research subjects, and discuss some empirical studies related to the topic. I argue that researchers have an ethical obligation to disclose conflicts of interest to research subjects, provided that they take steps to help subjects understand information about conflicts of interest and how to interpret it. Researchers also may have a legal duty to disclose conflicts of interests to subjects, depending on the facts of the case and the court's interpretation of the law. To reinforce and clarify the legal obligation to disclose conflicts of interest, the federal regulations should be amended to include disclosure of conflicts of interest as one of the informed consent requirements. Institutional review boards play a key role in helping researchers to disclose conflicts of interest to subjects in an appropriate manner. Institutional review boards should approve the disclosure language in informed consent documents, and they should require researchers to disclose financial interests to research subjects, if they have any, as a condition of approval.

PMID:
15675055
DOI:
10.1080/03050620490512322
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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