A Viewpoint article in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), “Confluence, Not Conflict of Interest: Name Change Necessary,” caught the eye of Dr. Richard Lehman, who writes the wonderful journal review blog for The BMJ.
First, an excerpt from the JAMA piece to give you a sense of what it’s about:
“The term conflict of interest is pejorative. It is confrontational and presumptive of inappropriate behavior. Rather, the focus should be on the objective, which is to align secondary interests with the primary objective of the endeavor—to benefit patients and society—in a way that minimizes the risk of bias. A better term—indicative of the objective—would be confluence of interest, implying an alignment of primary and secondary interests. In this regard, the individuals and entities liable to bias extend far beyond the investigator and the sponsor; they include departments, research institutes, and universities. The potential for bias also extends to nonprofit funders, such as the National Institutes of Health and foundations, as well as to journals that might, for example, generate advertising revenue from sponsors.”
Lehman called this article “disingenuous denial.” He wrote:
“I think it marks a low point for JAMA. It aligns the journal with the disingenuous deniers who pretend that conflicts of interest don’t arise when authors and investigators write about work that they have a vested interest in promoting. It joins together JAMA with the New England Journal of Medicine which took a similar stance in a series of opinion papers earlier this year. This is a sort of Republican Tea Party of the soul, where you know you are saying something false and daring people to contradict you, knowing that their very engagement is a form of legitimation.”
We wrote about the New England Journal of Medicine series earlier this year.