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J Med Ethics 36:505-510 doi:10.1136/jme.2010.035394
  • Research ethics

Disclosures of funding sources and conflicts of interest in published HIV/AIDS research conducted in developing countries

  1. Cheng-Shiun Leu2
  1. 1Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, New York, New York, USA
  2. 2Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, New York, New York, USA
  3. 3HIV Center for Clinical and Behavior Studies, New York State Psychiatric Institute and Columbia University, New York, New York, USA
  4. 4Columbia University School of Law, New York, New York, USA
  1. Correspondence to Professor Robert Klitzman, College of Physicians and Surgeons, Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University, 1501 Riverside Drive, Unit 15, New York, NY 10032, USA; rlk2{at}columbia.edu
  • Received 5 January 2010
  • Revised 17 April 2010
  • Accepted 26 April 2010

Abstract

Objectives Disclosures of funding sources and conflicts of interests (COI) in published peer-reviewed journal articles have recently begun to receive some attention, but many critical questions remain, for example, how often such reporting occurs concerning research conducted in the developing world and what factors may be involved.

Design Of all articles indexed in Medline reporting on human subject HIV research in 2007 conducted in four countries (India, Thailand, Nigeria and Uganda), this study explored how many disclosed a funding source and COI, and what factors are involved.

Results Of 221 articles that met the criteria, 67.9% (150) disclosed the presence or absence of a funding source, but only 20% (44) disclosed COI. Studies from Uganda were more likely, and those from Nigeria were less likely to mention a funding source (p<0.001). Of articles in journals that had adopted International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE) guidelines, 56% did not disclose COI. Disclosure of funding was more likely when: ≥50% of the authors and the corresponding author were from the sponsoring country, the sponsor country was the USA, and the articles were published in journals in which more of the editors were from the sponsoring countries.

Conclusions Of the published studies examined, over a third did not disclose funding source (ie, whether or not there was a funding source) and 80% did not disclose whether COI existed. Most articles in ICMJE-affiliated journals did not disclose COI. These data suggest the need to consider alteration of policies to require that published articles include funding and COI information, to allow readers to assess articles as fully as possible.

Footnotes

  • Funding LJC is a post-doctoral research fellow currently supported by a training grant from the National Institute of Mental Health (T32 MH19139) at the HIV Center for Clinical and Behavioral Studies (P30-MH43520; principal investigator Anke A Ehrhardt PhD). This study was supported by a NIH grant (5R01HG04214) on ‘Views and Approaches to Research Integrity Among IRBs’.

  • Competing interests None.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.