A published study reviewed the use of particular devices for performing a clinical manoeuvre. One of the authors worked for a consultancy, but declared that he had no conflict of interest. Subsequently, the journal received a letter pointing out that the consultancy had been set up explicitly to persuade governments and their regulatory organisations of the virtues of new drugs and technologies. This editors felt that this was a conflict of interest that should have been declared, and asked the author if he agreed. The journal’s advice is that if there is any doubt authors should declare an interest as there are rarely any problems taking this approach. The author explained that he had moved jobs after carrying out the research and writing the paper, but before the peer review and publication process had occurred. The author had cited his current address as being the place of contact. The journal is considering publishing a notice of undeclared interests, but should it do more?
Many authors are unclear as to what constitutes a conflict of interest, and a balance has to be struck between exactly what should or could be declared. - The journal does not need to take further action other than that suggested by the editor. - The editor should consider publishing an editorial in the journal to help clarify the issue for authors.