The industry-academy relationship has many benefits, but it also has potential drawbacks, including potential conflicts of interest (e.g., when the profit motives of a private company unduly influence academic responsibilities). To date, policies intended to regulate or manage financial conflicts of interest appear to be unsatisfying and inadequate. The present study examined predictors of the responses of academic scientists and clinicians to hypothetical situations in which financial and other conflicts of interest may arise. Academic scientists and clinicians at five medical schools completed an anonymous survey that included vignettes that posed a potential conflict of interest. Participants indicated the likelihood that they would engage in specific actions to avoid conflicts of interest. Findings indicated that junior faculty and those whose departments received more federal grant money were more likely to respond in ways that could create conflicts of interest. These results suggest that various sub-groups of faculty may require different approaches to appropriately avoid or manage financial conflicts of interest. These findings may contribute to the development of new policies that deal more effectively with conflicts of interest.
Joanna K. Sax and Neal Doran, "Evaluation of academic scientists’ responses to situations that pose a conflict of interest" Cancer Biology & Therapy 12:1, 4-8; July 1, 2011.