Medical journals update disclosure form for physician conflicts

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As of October, the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE) has updated its Uniform Disclosure Form for Potential Conflicts of Interest.

The ICMJE consists of a group of medical journal editors who work on the uniform requirements for manuscripts at its annual meeting. The group also advises study authors on publishing and editorial issues (i.e. corrections, retractions, copyright), manuscript preparation and ethical concerns.

The purpose of the five-section form is to disclose all information regarding the author’s interests that has the potential to influence how readers of the manuscript receive and understand the author’s work.

The first portion of the form asks for identifying information, including the name of the author and the name of the manuscript. Each author of the manuscript is asked to fill out and submit a disclosure form.

Next, the author is asked to provide information about the work to be published, including the initial conception of the study to the present. In this section, authors are asked if they or their institutions were given payments or any type of support from a third party for the work being submitted and, if so, they are asked to explain the nature of the compensation.

The form asks for information regarding any relevant financial activities and all sources of revenue that relate to the work being submitted for consideration. The form also asks for information on any interactions or relationships with the work’s sponsor that took place within the 36 months prior to submission, that is not included in the study that's been submitted, as the author could potentially be criticized by the reader for not disclosing relationships with those who could possibly benefit from the work being published. It is also suggested that relationships falling outside of the 36-month window be disclosed.

Relationships can include:

  • Board membership
  • Consultancy
  • Employment and
  • Expert testimony.

The final two sections pertain to any financial relationships that the author’s spouse or partner, or dependent children under the age of 18 have with any third party listed in the aforementioned sections and asks the author to state any activities or interactions family members have had with the party.

Lastly, the form asks for information regarding nonfinancial associations. Those associations can include personal, institutional, religious or political associations that may be of interest to the readers.