Proposed methods for evaluating efforts made by governments to prevent and mitigate corporate influence and conflicts of interest in public health policy

Mélissa Mialon, Adam Bertscher, Lisa Bero, Stefanie Vandevijvere

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background: There is evidence that corporations try to delay, weaken, and avoid the adoption of measures that would protect and improve population health. This is particularly true and problematic for health harming industries, such as those producing ultra-processed foods, alcohol, and cigarettes. Financial conflicts of interest (COI) are also problematic in policy-making because they may compromise decision-makers’ loyalty and independent judgment. Public opinion is in favor of preventing and mitigating that influence from corporations and COI on public health policy. A scoping review recently identified twenty-three mechanisms that could be adopted with that purpose and which principally cover: i) transparency and disclosure; ii) identification, monitoring, and education; iii) management; iv) prohibition of interactions with the industry and/or COI. There is, however, limited knowledge on the adoption of such mechanisms by governments. We therefore propose new methods for evaluating that progress at the country level. Methods and expected results: The proposed evaluation comprises five steps: 1) Gathering information about the national context; 2) Gathering evidence on the implementation of mechanisms by national governments; 3) Verification of step 2 by government officials and policy experts and local public health experts; 4) Identification and prioritization of actions in a workshop; 5) Supporting the translation of findings into policy actions. Conclusions: The evaluation of progress made by governments in their implementation of mechanisms for preventing and mitigating the influence of corporations and COI in public health policy could help countries systematize their efforts, benchmark their progress internationally, and give perspective on particular weaknesses, approaches, and investment gaps needed for change. We will implement and validate our methods in Ireland, as a first case-study.

Original languageEnglish
Article number41
JournalHRB Open Research
Volume5
Early online date23 May 2022
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 6 Sept 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Health Research Board [ARPP-2020-002; to MM].

Keywords

  • commercial determinants of health
  • conflicts of interest
  • corporate political activity
  • ethics
  • industry

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Health Professions (miscellaneous)

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