We wrap up this week with one final share from this month’s Journal of the American Medical Association: a great viewpoint piece on conflicts of interest in funding of public health schools.
The arguments put forth in this piece are extremely relevant to funding of health organizations like the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
* “This topic is particularly important because academic schools of public health today have little choice but to accept extramural funding. State schools derive some income from the state, although this source of funding is rapidly diminishing.”
* “The core aspirations of schools of public health can be debated, but their core mission is seldom in dispute: to advance the health of populations by engaging in scholarship and teaching about the economic, cultural, and social factors that shape that health.”
* “No funding, regardless of sources, should be accepted if the funding threatens that core mission; ie, no money should be accepted if it explicitly constrains the capability of schools of public health to do their work without interference from the funder. Of course, no funding comes with absolutely no strings, and wisdom arises in recognizing which conflicts would interfere with the integrity of the scholarly and educational mission of the school of public health.”
* “The challenge is that potential sources of funding may have quite different engagements in sectors that may promote, or harm, the health of the public. For example, food companies may produce food that is health promoting as well as food that is calorie-dense or nutrient-poor.”
* “All academic schools of public health need to have a robust mechanism for review of all extramural funding, to ensure that funding does not create a meaningful COI.”
* “Schools of public health need to have a mechanism for dispassionate review of the evidence about any particular funding source, to evaluate whether some funding is within the mission and scope of the schools. This review ultimately has to be academic, directed by faculty leaders and sometimes independent external experts who can review the evidence, the role of the particular funder, and that funder’s history, action, and relationships.”
(DFPI ADDS: As we have said since our inception, it is crucial to look at the political actions — i.e.: lobbying — of potential partners/sponsors).
Browse the other articles on conflicts of interest in the series here.