Sandy Szwarc, BSN, RN, CCP, at Junkfood Science has published a thought-provoking article on a trend that aesthetic practitioners should not ignore — cleaning up your conflicts of interest.

A recent editorial in the Journal of the American Medical Association called for the medical profession to clean up its act in this regard. In April 2008, JAMA pulled back the veil on this nasty business of ghostwritten scientific research and pay-for-play studies that glorify new tech for companies with a vested interest, as they say. As is becoming increasingly recognized, financial and ideological interests are polluting the scientific integrity of medicine. These interests use science for financial or political purposes. Scientific literature as a genre has become tainted, as studies are funded that have poor methodologies and are designed with specific results in mind, which can be used to further those interests. Those "interests" could be governmental bodies, pharmas, equipment manufacturers, etc.

Szwarc brings up the issue of nonprofits and associations that "silently influence" scientific writing — funding that comes via institutions and university programs don’t have to be disclosed, enabling well-funded and savvy nonprofit or “advocacy” groups to influence research, experts writing clinical guidelines, and public policies.

From Science, medicine, advocacy and politics:

As professor [K.D.] Brownell told the New York Times in an April article on the ethics of scientists and academics accepting money from industry, associations can affect a person’s objectivity and it’s easy to offer subtle statements that would favor one’s associations. “You do it for two reasons,” he was quoted as saying. “You’ve got a money stream coming in, and you get to like the people who work for the companies. You feel like you’re on a team.” He says he no longer accepts industry funding.

Speaking out against the team, the consensus of one’s peers, and being an independent thinker is a responsibility of any independent advisor, noted Joe Collier, emeritus professor of medicines policy at St. George’s Hospital and Medical School in London and former Editor of Drug and Therapeutics Bulletin. In an analysis and commentary in the British Medical Journal which was part of ongoing discussions among healthcare professionals on disclosures and conflicts of interest, he wrote that “career pressure and a focus on payment by results are making the critical and impartial thinker an endangered species.”

Read it all.