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Potential Conflicts of Interest

Clip Number: 9 of 12
Presentation: Children and Research
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Reviewed By: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
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Principal investigators and other researchers want study participants to be safe and healthy. However, they have other interests as well.
For example, occasionally an investigator may have a direct or indirect financial interest in the outcome of the study. An investigator may own stock in the company that is testing a new medicine, or may receive money for providing services to a company that makes a medical device. Depending on how much of a financial relationship investigators have with a company, they may benefit if the study finds the new treatment to be effective, and the company then makes a profit on the treatment.
Sometimes the various interests that an investigator has may be in conflict with each other. This is known as a "conflict of interest."
You can ask about conflict of interest policies at the location where the research is taking place. For example, Children's Hospital Boston and Harvard Medical School have rules that strictly limit the amount of financial interest investigators and study staff can have in the treatment being studied. Many other institutions have similar policies. You can also talk to the principal investigator or other members of the research team about their interests in this study. If you feel there is the potential for a conflict of interest, you may also ask to talk to a physician who isn't one of the investigators.

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