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Knowledge of ghostwriting and financial conflicts-of-interest reduces the perceived credibility of biomedical research

Jeffrey R Lacasse1* and Jonathan Leo2

Author Affiliations

1 School of Social Work, College of Public Programs, Arizona State University, Phoenix, Arizona, USA

2 Lincoln Memorial University - DeBusk College of Osteopathic Medicine, Harrogate, Tennessee, USA

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BMC Research Notes 2011, 4:27  doi:10.1186/1756-0500-4-27

Published: 31 January 2011



While the impact of conflicts-of-interest (COI) is of increasing concern in academic medicine, there is little research on the reaction of practicing clinicians to the disclosure of such conflicts. We developed two research vignettes presenting a fictional antidepressant medication study, one in which the principal investigator had no COI and another in which there were multiple COI disclosed. We confirmed the face validity of the COI vignette through consultation with experts. Hospital-based clinicians were randomly assigned to read one of these two vignettes and then administered a credibility scale.


Perceived credibility ratings were much lower in the COI group, with a difference of 11.00 points (31.42%) on the credibility scale total as calculated through the Mann-Whitney U test (95% CI = 6.99 - 15.00, p < .001). Clinicians in the COI group were also less likely to recommend the antidepressant medication discussed in the vignette (Odds Ratio = 0.163, 95% CI = .03 = 0.875).


In this study, increased disclosure of COI resulted in lower credibility ratings.