gms | German Medical Science

G-I-N Conference 2012

Guidelines International Network

22.08 - 25.08.2012, Berlin

Influence of conflicts of interests on the guideline development process

Meeting Abstract

  • C. Khan - Agency for Quality in Medicine, Berlin, Germany
  • D. Rütters - Agency for Quality in Medicine, Berlin, Germany
  • G. Ollenschläger - Agency for Quality in Medicine, Berlin, Germany
  • B. Babitsch - Osnabrueck University, Department of New Public Health, Osnabrueck, Germany
  • S. Weinbrenner - Agency for Quality in Medicine, Berlin, Germany

Guidelines International Network. G-I-N Conference 2012. Berlin, 22.-25.08.2012. Düsseldorf: German Medical Science GMS Publishing House; 2012. DocP070

doi: 10.3205/12gin182, urn:nbn:de:0183-12gin1825

Published: July 10, 2012

© 2012 Khan 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: A large number of studies demonstrate that results of drug trials are influenced by conflicts of interest (COI) in various ways. However, only few investigations on the impact of COI on the process of guideline development exist.

Objectives: The research project described below was designed to answer this question on behalf of the German Medical Association.

Methods: The first objective was to create a systematic review. A systematic literature search was conducted in the database MEDLINE from 2002. The publications were selected according to predefined specified criteria and were evaluated in terms of quality and relevance. The second part of the project comprised an internet-based survey among German guideline panellists to assess the frequency and the relevance of potential influence by COI.

Results: In the systematic evaluation of the literature we only found cross-sectional studies with results of surveys on COI among guideline panellists in North America and Europe. Around 87% of the experts claimed to have COI in connection with pharmaceutical industry. The focus of all studies was on financial COI. Our survey revealed that 30–40% of German guideline experts experienced attempts to direct or indirect influence. Assessing quality of primary studies seems to be a particularly vulnerable step of the work process because another potential severe risk of bias is added to the guideline development process.

Discussion/ Implications: At all stages of the development of clinical guidelines COI can influence the final product. Therefore, a well-defined methodological procedure and binding rules for handling COI are needed.