Content and strength of conflict of interest policies at Scandinavian Medical Schools: a cross sectional study

Alice Fabbri, Shai Mulinari, Martin Johansson, Weda Ghaur, Abdullah Muhammad Khalil, Andreas Lundh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background
Concerns around staffs’ and students’ interactions with commercial entities, for example drug companies, have led several North American medical schools to implement conflict of interest (COI) policies. However, little is known about COI policies at European medical schools. We analysed the content and strength of COI policies at Scandinavian medical schools.

Methods
We searched the websites of medical schools in Denmark, Norway, and Sweden and emailed the Deans for additional information. Using comparable methodology to previous studies, the strength of the COI policies was rated on a scale from 0 to 2 across 11 items (higher score more restrictive); we also assessed the presence of oversight mechanisms and sanctions.

Results
We identified 77 unique policies for 15 medical schools (range 2–8 per school). Most of the policies (n = 72; 94%) were University wide and only five (6%) were specific for the medical schools. For six of eleven items one or more schools had a restrictive policy (score of two). None of the schools had a restrictive policy for the five additional items (speaking relationships, sales representatives, on-site education activities, medical school curriculum, and drug samples). Honoraria was the item with the highest score, with eight of the 15 schools having a score of two. Thirteen of the 15 schools had policies that identified a party responsible for policy oversight and mentioned sanctions for non-compliance.

Conclusion
Our study provides the first evaluation of all Scandinavian medical schools’ COI policies. We found that the content of COI policies varies widely and still has shortcomings. We encourage Scandinavian medical schools to develop more stringent COI policies to regulate industry interactions with both faculty and students.
Original languageEnglish
JournalBMC Medical Education
Early online date26 Nov 2022
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 26 Nov 2022

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