What does the French public consider to be a conflict of interest for medical researchers?
Émilien Schultz, Julien Mancini, Jeremy Ward
Publications – Article/chapter
Émilien Schultz, Julien Mancini, Jeremy K Ward. What does the French public consider to be a conflict of interest for medical researchers?. Social science & medicine, 2023, 327, pp.115851. https://inserm.hal.science/inserm-04302056 ⤤
Conflicts of interests have been at the core of public debate over health and medicine for decades. Social scientists have analysed the diversity of definitions of this label as well as the policies put in place to regulate the relationships between medical researchers and various actors such as private corporations. But little attention has been paid to the way the public define and use this label. In this article, we assess what the French public consider to be a conflict of interest for medical researchers. We draw on the data from a questionnaire-based survey conducted with a representative sample of the French population in December 2021 (n = 2022) where we asked respondents to decide whether different situations constituted a conflict of interest or not. These situations concerned medical researchers' relationships with economic actors but also with politicians and the media, with or without financial compensation for the researcher. We identified three main group profiles in terms of respondents' conception of what counts as a conflict of interest: i) considering that only money matters in the labelling of a given situation as a conflict of interest, ii) considering that any relationship with economic, media and political actors constitutes a conflict of interest (i.e., that medical research should be an ivory tower), and iii) indecision as to what constitutes a conflict of interest. These three groups differed in terms of social composition as well as respondents' relationships to science, politics, and the health care system.