Conflict of Interest Disclosure in a Top-Tier Portuguese Medical Journal

Nuno Moreira Fonseca

Abstract


Introduction: Scientific medical publications are considered to be a source of unbiased and independent information. Authors are required to disclose relationships with the pharmaceutical industry for transparency purposes. The aim of this work was to assess conflict of interest disclosure in a Portuguese top-tier medical journal by comparing authors’ self-reported conflicts of interest with payments listed in the official database of Portuguese Ministry of Health.
Material and Methods: All articles published in the Portuguese Journal of Cardiology from December 2015 to May 2016 were reviewed. Articles based on clinical images, with authors affiliated to foreign institutions, editorials, letters to the editor, or submitted before January 1st 2015 were excluded. Authors were categorized on concordance between self-reported disclosures and payments listed in the database. Authors who authored multiple articles were counted as new authors, since each paper offered a new opportunity for financial disclosure.
Results: Of the 155 authors surveyed, 82 (53%) were in perfect concordance with the sunshine database, while 73 authors (47%) had one or more undisclosed payments. Undisclosed payments totaled over € 210 000. Four (17%) articles mentioned a conflict of interest, 24 articles (96%) had at least one author with undisclosed payments.
Discussion: None of the payments listed in the database was acknowledged in self-reported conflicts of interest. This might indicate that authors do not consider their financial relationships with the industry to be relevant.
Conclusion: The lack of concordance between self-reported conflicts of interest and payments found in the database raises concerns about incomplete disclosure.


Keywords


Conflict of Interest; Disclosure; Editorial Policies; Periodicals as Topic; Portugal

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