Toward Evidence-Based Conflicts of Interest Training for Physician-Investigators
29 Pages Posted: 14 Aug 2012 Last revised: 18 Sep 2012
Date Written: 2012
The increased focus in recent years on the risks posed by conflicts of interest arising from financial relationships between physician-investigators and the pharmaceutical and medical device industries has led to a variety of measures that can broadly be described as “regulatory” interventions, including new federal and state laws, criminal prosecutions and private lawsuits, requirements attached to government funding, and institutional policies. Studies suggest, however, that physician-investigators have not internalized the message that financial conflicts of interest have the potential to influence their decision-making. Simply informing physician-investigators of the content of relevant rules and the consequences of noncompliance — as appears to be the practice in many existing compliance training activities — is unlikely to lead to lasting changes in norms or behavior. Instead, we theorize that, for trainings to be maximally effective, they must appeal to the complex intrinsic and extrinsic motivations that contribute to individuals’ willingness to comply with regulatory mandates. In addition, physician-investigators’ beliefs that the risks posed by conflicts of interest do not apply to them need to be challenged. Rigorous evaluation of the newly-designed training programs will help determine whether these theories are borne out in fact.
Keywords: physicians, pharmaceutical and medical device industry, conflicts of interest, norms, training, empirical legal studies
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