, Volume 21, Issue 9, pp 901-906

Views of potential research participants on financial conflicts of interest barriers and opportunities for effective disclosure

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BACKGROUND: There is little guidance regarding how to disclose researchers’ financial interests to potential research participants.

OBJECTIVE: To determine what potential research participants want to know about financial interests, their capacity to understand disclosed information and its implications, and the reactions of potential research participants to a proposed disclosure statement.

DESIGN AND PARTICIPANTS: Sixteen focus groups in 3 cities, including 6 groups of healthy adults, 6 groups of adults with mild chronic illness, 1 group of parents of healthy children, 1 group of parents of children with leukemia or brain tumor, 1 group of adults with heart failure, and 1 group of adults with cancer.

APPROACH: Focus group discussions covered a range of topics including financial relationships in clinical research, whether people should be told about them, and how they should be told. Audio-recordings of focus groups were transcribed, verified, and coded for analysis.

RESULTS: Participants wanted to know about financial interests, whether or not those interests would affect their participation. However, they varied in their desire and ability to understand the nature and implications of financial interests. Whether disclosure was deemed important depended upon the risk of the research. Trust in clinicians was also related to views regarding disclosure. If given the opportunity to ask questions during the consent process, some participants would not have known what to ask; however, after the focus group sessions, participants could identify information they would want to know.

CONCLUSIONS: Financial interests are important to potential research participants, but obstacles to effective disclosure exist.

None of the authors have any conflicts of interest to declare.
This work was supported by grant R01 HL075538-01 from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute to Dr. Sugarman. We thank the focus group members for their participation; Gratia Wright and Johnston, Zabor, and McManus Inc, for helping us to learn from the participants; and Damon Seils for editorial assistance and manuscript preparation.