(HealthDay News) — Among institutional review board (IRB) members, there has been positive progress in the reporting and management of conflicts of interest, according to a study published in JAMA Internal Medicine.

Eric G. Campbell, PhD, from Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, and colleagues examined the nature, extent and perceived consequences of industry relationships among IRB members in academic health centers. IRB members from the 115 most research-intensive medical schools and teaching hospitals were surveyed; questions were identical to those used in 2005.

The researchers found that the percentage of IRB members with an industry relationship did not change significantly from 2005 through 2014 (37.2% vs. 32.1%; P=.09). 

There was a decrease in the percentage of members who felt another member did not properly disclose a financial relationship, from 10.8% 2005 to 6.7% in 2014 (P=.04); the percentage who felt pressure from their institution or department to approve a protocol also decreased (18.6% to 10.0%; P<.001). 

There was no change in the percentage of members with a conflict of interest who voted on protocols with which they have a conflict; there was a significant increase in the percentage who said they always disclosed relationships (from 54.9% to 80.0%).

“Additional attention should be focused on deterring IRB members from inappropriately voting on or presenting protocols in a biased manner,” the researchers wrote.


  1. Campbell EG et al. JAMA Intern Med. 2015;doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2015.3167.