Medical Academia Conflict of Interest Policy and Potential Impact on Research Funding

Michael Keith Maahs, Walden University


Medical Academia Conflict of Interest Policy and Potential Impact on Research Funding


Michael K. Maahs

MPA, Troy University, 1993

BA, Ripon College, 1990

Dissertation Submitted in Partial Fulfillment

of the Requirements for the Degree of

Doctor of Philosophy

Public Policy and Administration

Walden University

July 2015

The partnership between medical academia and the pharmaceutical industry has been scrutinized for issues associated with research bias. As a result of this scrutiny, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) issued policy recommendations in 2009 directing academia to adopt comprehensive conflict of interest (COI) policies. During the same time, a slowdown of funded research into academia occurred, and it is not clear whether the IOM recommendations contributed to this problem. The purpose of this case study was to determine the extent to which compliance with the IOM policy resulted in a reduction in funded research. The Advocacy Coalition Framework (ACF) was the theoretical lens used for study. COI policy statements (n = 15) were analyzed from American Association of Medical Colleges member schools that engage in medical research. In addition, in-depth interviews were conducted with 4 medical academic researchers. Data were inductively coded and organized around key themes. Key findings indicated that medical academia is compliant with IOM recommendations and COI policies did not appear to have a direct effect on research placement by industry. Interestingly, a possible explanation for reductions in industry funding relate to inefficient institutional review board processes. Additionally, the ACF construct was validated via an observed complex and slowly evolving COI policy process. The positive social change implications of this study include recommendations to academia to continue to monitor and report on COI and explore efficiency improvements related to IRB oversight in order to support important pharmaceutical research that ultimately improves the health and wellbeing of people.