Benefits of research disclosures questioned

RIGOROUS rules set by medical journals requiring researchers to disclose conflicts of interest associated with their published work may be undermining the critical scrutiny of readers, according to a leading ethics academic.

Writing in the most recent edition of the Internal Medicine Journal, Professor Paul Komesaroff, director of the Monash Centre for Ethics in Medicine and Society, said concerns about the capacity of commercial interests to influence the scientific record had prompted medical journals to develop increasingly rigorous requirements for authors to disclose their interests and influences.

However, he noted, there was no evidence that such disclosures altered the practices or authors, nor the readers.

“There are reasons for doubting that disclosure requirements in themselves... are likely to provide any kind of protection the community evidently seeks,” Professor Komesaroff said. 

“Mandatory disclosure