Category Archives: Conflicts of interest

Could financial conflicts be influencing cancer care guidelines?

Tara Haelle

About Tara Haelle

Tara Haelle (@TaraHaelle) is AHCJ's medical studies core topic leader, guiding journalists through the jargon-filled shorthand of science and research and enabling them to translate the evidence into accurate information.

Photo: Hloom Templates via Flickr

Physicians in all fields of medicine rely on guidelines developed by professional medical organizations to inform how they care for patients. These guidelines, whether defining what counts as hypertension or laying out how best to care for pregnant women, constitute the standard of care in that particular field. To call them influential is a huge understatement.

Since most of these guidelines discuss treatments, it’s reasonable to pay attention to whether those writing the guidelines might have a bias for or against a particular treatment that’s not based on evidence. It’s impossible to be certain of this for all guideline authors, but ensuring they aren’t receiving big checks from industry is one way to guard against bias. Continue reading

Covering health care – as a cancer patient

Joanne Kenen

About Joanne Kenen

Joanne Kenen, (@JoanneKenen) the health editor at Politico, is AHCJ’s topic leader on health reform and curates related material at healthjournalism.org. She welcomes questions and suggestions on health reform resources and tip sheets at joanne@healthjournalism.org. Follow her on Facebook.

Alexandra Glorioso, a Florida health reporter for Politico, joined AHCJ for a webcast about what being diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer at age 31 taught her about reporting on health care.

Before we say anything else – after a rough year with chemo, surgery, and radiation – Glorioso is doing well. She’s in remission (and planning her wedding!). Continue reading

Freelancers, editors explore ethics, integrity and transparency

Mary Otto

About Mary Otto

Mary Otto, a Washington, D.C.-based freelancer, is AHCJ's topic leader on oral health and the author of "Teeth: The Story of Beauty, Inequality, and the Struggle for Oral Health in America." She can be reached at mary@healthjournalism.org.

Photo: Pia Christensen/AHCJEditor Brendan Maher stressed that writers should always be transparent about potential conflicts of interest.

While their hearts and training may lie with traditional objective journalism, many freelancers take on additional writing assignments in order to make ends meet. But when do these non-journalistic jobs present real or potential conflicts of interest with journalism?  How should writers and their editors address the ethical questions that may arise? In an evolving media landscape, how do freelance journalists maintain objectivity – and integrity – while paying the bills? Continue reading

Conflicts of interest can be harder to detect when reporting on psychosocial research

Tara Haelle

About Tara Haelle

Tara Haelle (@TaraHaelle) is AHCJ's medical studies core topic leader, guiding journalists through the jargon-filled shorthand of science and research and enabling them to translate the evidence into accurate information.

Photo: Joe Houghton via Flickr

Journals require authors to disclose any possible financial conflicts of interest (COIs) because research has shown links between industry funding and study outcomes. Funding from pharmaceutical or medical device companies is relatively straightforward to track, but financial COIs in psychosocial research can be more complex and underreported. Nonetheless, they are no less important to disclose, argue Ioana-Alina Cristea, Ph.D., and John P. A. Ioannidis, M.D., DSc, in a JAMA Psychiatry commentary earlier this year. Continue reading

Dr. Lisa Schwartz’s loss reverberates throughout medical and journalism community

Tara Haelle

About Tara Haelle

Tara Haelle (@TaraHaelle) is AHCJ's medical studies core topic leader, guiding journalists through the jargon-filled shorthand of science and research and enabling them to translate the evidence into accurate information.

Lisa Schwartz

The evidence-based medical research community lost a hugely influential voice and amazing individual. Lisa Schwartz, M.D., M.S., a physician and researcher who dedicated her life to improving how research is published, interpreted and distributed, passed away on Thursday.

I first met Schwartz during the National Institutes of Health Medicine in the Media workshop in 2012, the last year it ran. She and her research partner (and husband), Steven Woloshin, M.D., M.S., ran the workshop and co-directed the Center for Medicine and the Media at the Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice. Continue reading

Checking conflicts of interest: If cutting corners, at least do it right

Tara Haelle

About Tara Haelle

Tara Haelle (@TaraHaelle) is AHCJ's medical studies core topic leader, guiding journalists through the jargon-filled shorthand of science and research and enabling them to translate the evidence into accurate information.

Photo: Hey Paul Studios via Flickr

Sometimes you have to learn things the hard way to get them right the next time – even when you already know better and shouldn’t have made that rookie mistake in the first place.

That’s what this post is about: My haste in covering a story I already know a lot about led me to omit a crucial piece of reporting – checking for potential conflicts of interest. I hope others will learn from my experience and use the resources I provide below to avoid the same mistake. Continue reading