Methodological rigour and impartiality are key attributes of Cochrane reviews. In an era where the validity of research is under scrutiny, the impact of conflicts of interest (COI), real and perceived, cannot be underestimated. It is critical, therefore, that Cochrane has a policy in place to minimize this concern and retain the confidence of all its stakeholders. To ensure Cochrane’s policy is fit for purpose, we are reviewing the Commercial Sponsorship Policy for Cochrane reviews and Cochrane review groups, which was last updated in October 2014. We aim to make it easier to identify, prevent and manage COI from initial declarations to published statements in Cochrane reviews. The revised policy will cover both financial and non-financial aspects of COI. By improving clarity and removing ambiguity, we hope that the new policy will deal with issues around perception and transparency.
We invite feedback from people who create, use or fund the production of Cochrane Reviews, on how conflict of interest should be defined and managed. Please take 15 minutes to complete this important survey on COI by 17th February.
In revising the current policy, we must consider the unique challenges that arise from Cochrane being both the publisher of the Cochrane Library (which has similar properties to a journal) and an international healthcare research organization which serves multiple stakeholder interests and is powered by a largely volunteer workforce. Cochrane is not the only international organization working in different cultures and countries; like the Guidelines-International-Network and the World Health Organization, we must ensure that the Cochrane COI policy is understood and applied throughout the world. It must also contribute to ensuring that our readers continue to have confidence in relation to our core product, the Cochrane Library.
Information gathered in the survey will be combined with a review of COI policies from other organizations and interviews with key stakeholders and COI experts, to inform the policy update. We expect to submit an internal report and draft to the Cochrane Board by mid-2019. Following that the underlying survey data will be freely available.
If you have any questions about the survey or the COI revision project generally, please contact the team at COISurvey@cochrane.org.
- Provide feedback via the survey
- Read the Cochrane Library editorial: ‘Cochrane's plans to update its COI policy: truth and fiction’