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April 2012

This month in PLoS Medicine the Editors argue that competing interests disclosure may exacerbate bias rather than ameliorate it. Although disclosures make explicit and transparent the details that are important to the interpretation, credibility, and value of the information presented, overemphasis and reliance on disclosure policies leaves the real problem of the conflict of interest unaddressed. Furthermore, it may actually make the situation worse, according to studies in social science, which the Editors discuss. “Journals, professional associations, clinical guideline developers, and others need to worry not just that disclosure provides a band-aid to the real problem of the [conflict of interest] itself, but that any attempt to stem the trouble through disclosure policies may actually be worsening the problem,” say the Editors. The editorial also discusses the response to a PLoS Medicine paper by Lisa Cosgrove and Sheldon Krimsky that examined the financial conflicts of interest of members of the American Psychiatric Association (APA) responsible for updating the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), the so-called “bible” of psychiatry.

Image Credit: National Archives and Records Administration (US National Archives @ flickr)


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