Journal of General Internal Medicine

, Volume 23, Issue 6, pp 860–866 | Cite as

Effects of Disclosing Financial Interests on Attitudes Toward Clinical Research

  • Kevin P. WeinfurtEmail author
  • Mark A. Hall
  • Michaela A. Dinan
  • Venita DePuy
  • Joëlle Y. Friedman
  • Jennifer S. Allsbrook
  • Jeremy Sugarman
Health Policy



The effects of disclosing financial interests to potential research participants are not well understood.


To examine the effects of financial interest disclosures on potential research participants’ attitudes toward clinical research.

Design and Participants

Computerized experiment conducted with 3,623 adults in the United States with either diabetes mellitus or asthma, grouped by lesser and greater severity. Respondents read a description of a hypothetical clinical trial relevant to their diagnosis that included a financial disclosure statement. Respondents received 1 of 5 disclosure statements.


Willingness to participate in the hypothetical clinical trial, relative importance of information about the financial interest, change in trust after reading the disclosure statement, surprise regarding the financial interest, and perceived effect of the financial interest on the quality of the clinical trial.


Willingness to participate in the hypothetical clinical trial did not differ substantially among the types of financial disclosures. Respondents viewed the disclosed information as less important than other factors in deciding to participate. Disclosures were associated with some respondents trusting the researchers less, although trust among some respondents increased. Most respondents were not surprised to learn of financial interests. Researchers owning equity were viewed as more troubling than researchers who were compensated for the costs of research through per capita payments.


Aside from a researcher holding an equity interest, the disclosure to potential research participants of financial interests in research, as recommended in recent policies, is unlikely to affect willingness to participate in research.


clinical research disclosure financial interest 



We thank Scott Y. Kim of the University of Michigan for commenting on an early draft of the manuscript; Diana B. McNeill, Mark N. Feinglos, and Peter S. Kussin of Duke University, and Peter B. Terry, Frederick L. Brancati, and Jerry A. Krishnan of The Johns Hopkins University for assistance with developing items with which to categorize disease severity among survey respondents; and Damon Seils of Duke University for editorial assistance and manuscript preparation.


This study was supported by grant R01HL075538-01 from the US National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute to Dr Sugarman. This work was independent of the funding source. The sponsor had no involvement in the study design; in the collection, analysis, or interpretation of data; in the writing of the manuscript; or in the decision to submit the paper for publication.

Conflicts of interest

None disclosed.

Supplementary material

11606_2008_590_MOESM1_ESM.doc (44 kb)
ESM 1 (DOC 44.0 kb)


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Copyright information

© Society of General Internal Medicine 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kevin P. Weinfurt
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Mark A. Hall
    • 3
    • 4
  • Michaela A. Dinan
    • 1
  • Venita DePuy
    • 1
  • Joëlle Y. Friedman
    • 1
  • Jennifer S. Allsbrook
    • 1
  • Jeremy Sugarman
    • 5
  1. 1.Center for Clinical and Genetic Economics, Duke Clinical Research InstituteDuke University School of MedicineDurhamUSA
  2. 2.Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral SciencesDuke University School of MedicineDurhamUSA
  3. 3.Wake Forest University School of LawWinston-SalemUSA
  4. 4.Wake Forest University School of MedicineWinston-SalemUSA
  5. 5.Berman Institute of Bioethics and the Department of MedicineThe Johns Hopkins UniversityBaltimoreUSA

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