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Conflicts of Interest (COI) - Definitions


An interest may be defined as a commitment, goal, or value held by an individual or an institution.

Examples include a research project to be completed, gaining status through promotion or recognition, and protecting the environment. Interests are pursued in the setting of social interactions.

Conflict of Interest (COI)

A conflict of interest exists when two or more contradictory interests relate to an activity by an individual or an institution. The conflict lies in the situation, not in any behavior or lack of behavior of the individual. That means that a conflict of interest is not intrinsically a bad thing.

Examples include a conflict between financial gain and meticulous completion and reporting of a research study or between responsibilities as an investigator and as a treating physician for the same trial participant.

Institutional examples include the unbalancing of the institutional mission by acceding to the space requests of a large donor for an idiosyncratic program.

Other definitions include:

Conflicts of interest are "situations in which financial or other personal considerations may compromise, or have the appearance of compromising, an investigator's judgement in conducting or reporting research." AAMC, 1990

"A conflict of interest in research exists when the individual has interests in the outcome of the research that may lead to a personal advantage and that might therefore, in actuality or appearance compromise the integrity of the research." NAS, Integrity in Scientific Research
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Chapter 4
Quick Links

Conflicts of Interest (COI)


Consequences of a COI

Government Intervention

Industry Sponsorship

Professional Societies

Clinical Practice Guidelines

Other Initiatives

COI in Financial Consulting



Chapter 4 Download (PDF)