Oral Presentation Australasian Association of Bioethics & Health Law and New Zealand Bioethics Conference

Is it really all about the money? Non-financial conflicts of interest in health and biomedicine (912)

Wendy Lipworth 1 , Miriam Wiersma 1 , Narcyz Ghinea 1 , Ian Kerridge 1
  1. University of Sydney, University Of Sydney, NSW, Australia



In this presentation, we will address a pressing organizational ethics issue: how should non-financial conflicts of interest be understood, assessed and managed by those governing health and biomedicine? This is a crucial question to answer because non-financial interests—such as those stemming from religious and secular beliefs, relationships and personal ambition—can compete and conflict with other important interests—such as generating and disseminating useful knowledge, making policy in the public interest, and caring for patients. These conflicts can, in turn, generate biases that can distort health and biomedical research, publication, education, policymaking and practice. Despite this, non-financial interests are currently almost entirely neglected by those charged with managing institutional and individual conflicts of interest (who tend to focus exclusively on financial interests, such as those that arise in the context of interactions with industry). Furthermore, some argue that this is as it should be—i.e. that non-financial interests cannot and should not be managed alongside financial interests. In this presentation, we will present the arguments against creating a false dichotomy between financial and non-financial conflicts of interest. After making the case that non-financial conflicts of interest can and should be managed alongside financial conflicts of interest, we will present a preliminary framework for doing so in a morally and politically acceptable way.