Reporting potential conflicts of interest among authors of professional medical societies' guidelines

South Med J. 2012 Aug;105(8):411-5. doi: 10.1097/SMJ.0b013e318256ef1d.


Background: Limited attention is directed to the potential conflicts of interest (COI) of the authors of practice guidelines writing groups of professional medical societies (PMS) and industry. The objective of this study was to report the proportion of authors with potential COI among guidelines writing groups of PMS.

Methods: A systematic search in PubMed to identify practice guidelines of a convenience sample of 12 publicly known PMS for a period of 3 years. The authors' disclosures of COI were reviewed for the identified guidelines.

Results: We identified 126 guidelines, of which 107 (85%) reported authors' disclosures of COI and 19 (15%) did not. With the exception of the US Preventive Services Task Force, all of the reviewed guidelines writing groups of PMS had potential COI to some extent. The maximum percentage of authors with potential COI varied among PMS from 25% to 100%.

Conclusions: A substantial variation of percentage of authors with potential COI exists among guidelines writing groups of different PMS. Several practice guidelines of PMS fail to include the disclosures of potential COI in their published guidelines. We made several suggestions to promote the transparency of potential COI in clinical practice guidelines.

MeSH terms

  • Authorship*
  • Bibliometrics*
  • Conflict of Interest*
  • Disclosure*
  • Humans
  • Organizational Policy
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic*
  • Societies, Medical
  • United States