Methodological rigour and impartiality are key attributes of Cochrane reviews. In an era where the validity of research is under scrutiny, the impact of conflicts of interest (COI), real and perceived, cannot be overestimated. It is critical, therefore, that Cochrane has a policy in place to minimize this concern and retain the confidence of all its stakeholders.
To ensure Cochrane’s policy is fit for purpose, we are reviewing the Commercial Sponsorship Policy for Cochrane reviews and Cochrane review groups, which was last updated in October 2014. We aim to make it easier to identify, prevent and manage COI from initial declarations to published statements in Cochrane reviews. The revised policy will cover both financial and non-financial aspects of COI. By improving clarity and removing ambiguity, we hope that the new policy will deal with issues around perception and transparency.
In revising the policy, we must consider the unique challenges that arise from Cochrane being both the publisher of the Cochrane Library and an international healthcare research organization which serves multiple stakeholder interests and is powered by a largely volunteer workforce. Like other international organizations, we must ensure that our COI policy is understood and applied in a wide variety of countries and cultural contexts. Information gathered in the survey will be combined with a review of COI policies from other organizations and interviews with key stakeholders and COI experts, to inform the policy update.
We invite feedback from people who create, use or fund the production of Cochrane Reviews, on how conflict of interest should be defined and managed. Please take 15 minutes to complete this important survey on COI by 17th February.
If you have any questions about the survey or the COI revision project generally, please contact the team at COISurvey@cochrane.org.