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BMJ Open. 2017 Sep 21;7(9):e017019. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2017-017019.

Reporting of conflicts of interest in oral presentations at medical conferences: a delegate-based prospective observational study.

Author information

Department of Medicine, University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand.
Health Services Research Unit, University of Aberdeen, Foresterhill, Scotland.



To assess the prevalence, location, presentation and consistency of conflict of interest statements in oral presentations at medical conferences DESIGN: Prospective, delegate-based observational study SAMPLE: 201 oral presentations at 5 medical conferences in 2016 MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Presence of a conflict of interest statement, its location within the presentation and its duration of display. Concordance between conflict of interest disclosures in oral presentations and written abstracts or meeting speaker information RESULTS: Conflict of interest statements were present in 143/201 (71%) presentations (range for conferences 26%-100%). 118 of the 141 evaluable statements (84%) were reported on a specific slide. Slides containing conflict of interest statements were displayed for a median (IQR) 2 s (1-5), range for conferences 1.25-7.5 s. Duration of display was shorter when the slide contained only the conflict of interest statement, 2 s (1-3.5), than when it contained other information, 8 s (3-17), but was not affected by type of presentation or whether a conflict of interest was disclosed. When a conflict of interest was disclosed, 27/84 (32%) presenters discussed an aspect of it. Discordance between the presence of a conflict of interest disclosure in the oral presentation and written formats occurred for 22% of presentations.


In oral presentations at the medical conferences we assessed, conflict of interest statements were often missing, displayed too briefly to be read and understood, or not discussed/explained by the presenter. They were sometimes discordant with statements in the corresponding written formats. Conference delegates' ability to assess the objectivity and quality of the information in oral presentations may therefore have been diminished.


Conflict of interest; medical conferences; medical education

Conflict of interest statement

Competing interests: All authors have completed the ICMJE unified disclosure form and competing interest form at (available upon request from the corresponding author). None of the authors were involved in any aspect of the organisation of the conference(s) they attended. AG is a shareholder in Auckland Bone Density, a company that provides bone mineral density measurements. ND discloses consulting fees, speaker fees or grants from Takeda, Menarini, Teijin, Pfizer, Ardea Biosciences, AstraZeneca, Crealta, Fonterra, Cymabay and Abbvie. FS gave an oral presentation at the conference she attended. Her attendance was funded by the Cochrane Incontinence Group, the largest single funder of which is The National Institute for Health Research. AA and MJB have no financial conflict to interest to declare. AG and MJB have coauthored publications on conflicts of interest in the interpretation and dissemination of clinical research findings. All authors consider that conflicts of interest are potentially important in the interpretation and dissemination of research findings.

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