Identifying and Managing Conflicts of Interest of Prospective Members and Members of NHMRC Committees and Working Groups Developing Guidelines.
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Frequently Asked Questions
1. What is the key benefit of the new policy?
The new policy ensures the integrity of guidelines produced or approved by the NHMRC.
The principles in the new policy provide guidance to ensure that there is clarity and transparency in the declaration of any interests, a balance of perspectives, and guidance on disclosing and managing interests.
The new policy recognises that many experts, who bring experience and ideas to guideline development, will also often have interests. These interests must be transparent and appropriately managed to maintain the integrity of NHMRC guidelines.
2. Who does this policy apply to?
From 1 August 2012 the new policy applies to anyone who is either considering joining, or is part of a committee developing guidelines for NHMRC or for NHMRC approval.
3. Does this policy apply to third party guidelines?
Yes. It applies if you register your guideline on the NHMRC Guidelines-in-Development portal advising of your intention to seek NHMRC approval.
4. When does this policy become effective?
1 August 2012.
5. How does it apply to third party guidelines seeking NHMRC approval?
Under the Procedures and requirements for meeting the 2011 NHMRC standard for clinical practice guidelines (the 2011 NHMRC Standard), guideline development committees are required to identify, document and manage potential competing interests. A competing interest declaration must be completed by each member of the group (requirement A6)1. Guideline developers currently identify, document and manage potential competing interests through compliance with their own institutional procedures relating to conflicts of interest.
The new policy will now provide further assistance to guideline developers in meeting this standard. Accordingly, to comply with requirement A6 of the 2011 NHMRC Standard, the requirements of 1.1.4 of the new policy apply. This means that in addition to complying with your internal institutional procedures in relation to the declaration, identification and management of interests, you must also comply with the principles about disclosure of interests contained in the new policy.
This means that guideline developers seeking NHMRC approval are required to comply with the following principles:
- transparency in the disclosure of any interests
- managing interests in a manner consistent with the new NHMRC policy
- balance and diversity of expertise and perspectives
- balancing the benefit of having persons with expertise against the risks of their interests biasing a process
- the focus on technical knowledge should not override or dominate all other considerations
- the committee or working group is chaired by someone who has no conflicts of interest that could, or could be perceived to, erode the integrity of the recommendations
- ensuring the integrity of the guidelines.