Posted: November 4, 2016

Medical Students' Experience with Conflicts of Interest During Clerkship


Medical school curricula typically contain components designed to prepare students for recognizing and managing clinical conflicts of interest (COI); these curricula largely focus on industry-related COI [1-3]. However, little is known about exposure to non-industry COI [4,5] where professional judgment concerning the patient's welfare may be unduly influenced by a secondary personal interest unrelated to industry marketing. The purposes of our study were to determine whether or not medical students could successfully recognize COI, and to identify and categorize COI that were witnessed or experienced by medical students during clerkships. The authors found that during clerkships, students are observing or experiencing both industry and non-industry related COI. Non-industry COI should be addressed in medical school curricula given the potential negative impact on students' clinical experiences and professional development. COI does not necessarily result in sub-optimal care (in some cases it is possible to treat a patient optimally while additionally acting in accordance with an ulterior motive), however, it is possible that care is compromised due to COI. Furthermore, general COI curricula should be emphasized given the observation that a significant portion of students are unable to distinguish a COI from patient-provider conflict or provider disagreement.

*Presented at Learn Serve Lead 2016


Professionalism, LSL 2016, Conflict of Interest, Medical School Curricula, Clinical Decision Making, Non-Industry Conflicts of Interest


Herbert Chase, MD, MA, Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons

Matthew Dickstein, Hamilton College