Conflict of Interest

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Korean J Fam Med. 2012;33(3):125-125
Publication date (electronic) : 2012 May 24
doi :
Department of Family Medicine, Kangdong Sacred Heart Hospital, Hallym University College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea.

It may be advantageous for researchers to collaborate with commercial companies, for example pharmaceutical or technology companies, to develop products that benefit patients. However, this may result in undue influence on the primary interests of the research.1) Conflict of interest can be defined as, "a set of conditions in which professional judgment concerning a primary interest (such as patients' welfare or the validity of research) is unduly influenced by a secondary interest (such as financial gain)."2) Such conflicts of interest threaten the integrity of scientific investigation, the objectivity of medical education, the quality of patient care, and the public's trust in medicine.

Conflict of interest occurs when an author, reviewer, or editor has relationships that inappropriately influence his or her actions. They may be personal, commercial, political, academic, or financial. Financial interests may include employment, research funding, stock or share ownership, payment for lectures or travel, consultancies, or company support for staff.3,4) Many studies have shown a correlation between authors' support of certain drugs and whether or not they have a financial relationship with the manufacturers of the drugs.5)

Most journals have a policy that conflict of interest should be declared. For example, in Lancet, "All authors are required to provide a signed statement of their conflicts of interest as part of the author statement form." In the information for authors of the Korean Journal of Family Medicine, it is stated, "All authors must reveal all interests that related to research, such as consultation fees," but there are no clear guideline regarding scope, time limit, or threshold of conflicts of interest. The Korean Academy of Family Medicine must create a policy addressing conflicts of interest, including a standardized disclosure content and format, and strengthened disclosure policies.

Conflict of interest is a condition, not a behavior. Conflict of interest is common among authors, but many do not declare conflicts of interest.5) Because conflict of interest has an important impact on the information reaching health professionals, the public, and patient care, clear policies must be established for the management of conflict of interest.


No potential conflict of interest relevant to this article was reported.


1. Lo B, Field MJ, eds. Institute of Medicine (US) Committee on Conflict of Interest in Medical Research, Education, and Practice. Conflict of interest in medical research, education, and practice 2009. Washington (DC): National Academies Press.
2. Thompson DF. Understanding financial conflicts of interest. N Engl J Med 1993;329:573–576. 8336759.
3. Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE). Guidelines on good publication practice [Internet] 1999. cited 2012 May 8. [place unknown]: COPE. Available from:
4. Steneck NH. ORI: introduction to the responsible conduct of research [Internet] 2007. cited 2012 May 8. Washington (DC): US Government Printing Office. Available from:
5. Stelfox HT, Chua G, O'Rourke K, Detsky AS. Conflict of interest in the debate over calcium-channel antagonists. N Engl J Med 1998;338:101–106. 9420342.

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