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PLoS One. 2012;7(5):e37413. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0037413. Epub 2012 May 22.

Conflict of interest policies for organizations producing a large number of clinical practice guidelines.

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Department of Medical Informatics and Clinical Epidemiology, Oregon Health and Science University, Portland, Oregon, United States of America.



Conflict of interest (COI) of clinical practice guideline (CPG) sponsors and authors is an important potential source of bias in CPG development. The objectives of this study were to describe the COI policies for organizations currently producing a significant number of CPGs, and to determine if these policies meet 2011 Institute of Medicine (IOM) standards.


We identified organizations with five or more guidelines listed in the National Guideline Clearinghouse between January 1, 2009 and November 5, 2010. We obtained the COI policy for each organization from publicly accessible sources, most often the organization's website, and compared those polices to IOM standards related to COI. 37 organizations fulfilled our inclusion criteria, of which 17 (46%) had a COI policy directly related to CPGs. These COI policies varied widely with respect to types of COI addressed, from whom disclosures were collected, monetary thresholds for disclosure, approaches to management, and updating requirements. Not one organization's policy adhered to all seven of the IOM standards that were examined, and nine organizations did not meet a single one of the standards.


COI policies among organizations producing a large number of CPGs currently do not measure up to IOM standards related to COI disclosure and management. CPG developers need to make significant improvements in these policies and their implementation in order to optimize the quality and credibility of their guidelines.

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