gms | German Medical Science

G-I-N Conference 2012

Guidelines International Network

22.08 - 25.08.2012, Berlin

Handling conflicts of interest in guideline development: experience of the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology

Meeting Abstract

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  • W.L.D.M. Nelen - European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology, Grimbergen, Belgium; Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Centre, Nijmegen, The Netherlands
  • N. Vermeulen - European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology, Grimbergen, Belgium

Guidelines International Network. G-I-N Conference 2012. Berlin, 22.-25.08.2012. Düsseldorf: German Medical Science GMS Publishing House; 2012. DocP069

doi: 10.3205/12gin181, urn:nbn:de:0183-12gin1813

Published: July 10, 2012

© 2012 Nelen et al.
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License ( You are free: to Share – to copy, distribute and transmit the work, provided the original author and source are credited.



Background: No consensus exists on handling conflicts of interest in guideline development. As a European guideline development program, our policy is not to exclude experts with COI, but to exclude members from elaborating certain key questions and/or participating in parts of the discussion.

Objectives: We evaluated the prevalence of COI in three guideline groups and questioned their opinion on our policy.

Methods: A questionnaire was sent to the group members.

Results: We evaluated data on COI from 35 group members by standardized forms. Overall, 54,3% of the members reported at least one potential COI from the last 3 years. Most of the COI were consulting fees (63,2%), speakers fees (52,6%) and research grants (31,6%). Two members declared position funding from non-commercial organizations, none declared ownership interest (stock/partnership) of a healthcare company. The amount of COI differed greatly between groups, due to different guideline topics. However, we had no problems dividing key questions in any of the groups. The results of the questionnaire show that the group members agree that correct handling of COI is important and believe our policy will make guideline users trust that the influence of COI is minimal. 87,5% of the responders believe that our policy limits the influence of COI. More questionnaires are currently being collected.

Discussion: A formal policy on handling financial COI is necessary in guideline development. Our policy was designed to be workable and transparent and is evaluated as useful and trustworthy by group members.