A consumer’s guide to research on substance use disorders (part 8)

In previous posts, I explained the challenges of making sense of research and introduced 8 questions that will help readers evaluate evidence and relevance to their work, goals, and lives. Today is question #7.

7) Were there any conflicts of interest (real or potential)?

A conflict of interest is a situation in which financial or other personal considerations have the potential to compromise or bias judgment and objectivity. It is worth noting that a conflict of interest exists whether or not decisions are affected by a personal interest.

Conflicts of interest can lead to more than unreliable information about particular treatments. For example, Stenius (2016) described alcohol and tobacco industry influence on the assumptions underlying policy decisions.

It is well documented how the tobacco industry for decades funded research aimed at producing uncertainty about the danger of smoking (e.g., Brandt, 2012). For alcohol, the transnational producers have invested resources in research that questions the relation between the total consumption and alcohol-related harms on a population level to prevent general regulations of the alcohol market (Adams, 2016).

Stenius, Kerstin. (2016). Addiction journals and the management of conflicts of interest. The International Journal of Alcohol and Drug Research. 5. 9.

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