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PURPOSE - The landscape of managing potential conflicts of interest (COIs) has evolved substantially across many disciplines in recent years, but rarely are the issues more intertwined with financial and ethical implications than in the health care setting. Cancer care is a highly technologic arena, with numerous physician-industry interactions. The American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) recognizes the role of a professional organization to facilitate management of these interactions and the need for periodic review of its COI policy (Policy).
METHODS - To gauge the sentiments of ASCO members and nonphysician stakeholders, two surveys were performed. The first asked ASCO members to estimate opinions of the Policy as it relates to presentation of industry-sponsored research. Respondents were classified as consumers or producers of research material based on demographic responses. A similar survey solicited opinions of nonphysician stakeholders, including patients with cancer, survivors, family members, and advocates.
RESULTS - The ASCO survey was responded to by 1,967 members (1% of those solicited); 80% were producers, and 20% were consumers. Most respondents (93% of producers; 66% of consumers) reported familiarity with the Policy. Only a small proportion regularly evaluated COIs for presented research. Members favored increased transparency about relationships over restrictions on presentations of research. Stakeholders (n = 264) indicated that disclosure was "very important" to "extremely important" and preferred written disclosure (77%) over other methods.
CONCLUSION - COI policies are an important and relevant topic among physicians and patient advocates. Methods to simplify the disclosure process, improve transparency, and facilitate responsiveness are critical for COI management.