• Conflict of Interest Mitigation Procedures May Have Little Influence on the Perceived Procedural Fairness of Risk-Related Research

    John Besley (see profile) , Kevin Elliot, Norbert Kaminski, Joseph Martin, Aaron McCright, Nagwan Zahry
    MSU Health and Risk Communication Center Message Vault
    Communication, Risk--Sociological aspects
    Item Type:
    conflict of interest, fairness, risk communication, science communication, trust, Sociology of risk
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    Two between-subject experiments explored perceived conflict of interest (COI)—operationalized as perceived procedural unfairness—in a hypothetical public–private research partnership to study the health risks of trans fats. Perceived fairness was measured as subjects’ perceptions that health researchers would be willing to listen to a range of voices and minimize bias (i.e., COI) in the context of a research project. Experiment 1 (n = 1,263) randomly assigned research subjects to a partnership that included (1) a combination of an industry partner, a university partner, and a nongovernmental organization (NGO) partner; and (2) one of three processes aimed at mitigating the potential for COI to harm the quality of the research. The procedures included an arm's-length process meant to keep the university-based research team from being influenced by the other partners, an independent advisory board to oversee the project, and a commitment to making all data and analyses openly available. The results suggest that having an industry partner has substantial negative effects on perceived fairness and that the benefit of employing a single COI-mitigation process may be relatively small. Experiment 2 (n = 1,076) assessed a partnership of (1) a university and either an NGO or industry partner and (b) zero, one, two, or three of the three COI-mitigation procedures. Results suggest there is little value in combining COI-mitigation procedures. The study has implications for those who aim to foster confidence in scientific findings for which the underlying research may benefit from industry funding.
    Last Updated:
    2 years ago
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