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Disclosure of study funding and author conflicts of interest in press releases and the news: A retrospective content analysis with two cohorts

Sumner, Petroc, Schwartz, Lisa M., Woloshin, Steven, Bratton, Luke and Chambers, Christopher D. 2021. Disclosure of study funding and author conflicts of interest in press releases and the news: A retrospective content analysis with two cohorts. BMJ Open 11 , e041385. 10.1136/bmjopen-2020-041385

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Abstract

Objectives To examine how often study funding and author conflicts of interest are stated in science and health press releases and in corresponding news; and whether disclosure in press releases is associated with disclosure in news. Second, to specifically examine disclosure rates in industry-funded studies. Design Retrospective content analysis with two cohorts. Setting Press releases about health, psychology or neuroscience research from research universities and journals from 2011 (n=996) and 2015 (n=254) and their associated news stories (n=1250 and 578). Primary outcome measure Mention of study funding and author conflicts of interest. Results In our 2011 cohort, funding was reported in 94% (934/996) of journal articles, 29% (284/996) of press releases and 9% (112/1250) of news. The corresponding figures for 2015 were: 84% (214/254), 52% (131/254) and 10% (58/578). A similar pattern was seen for the industry funding subset. If the press release reported study funding, news was more likely to: 22% if in the press release versus 7% if not in the press release (2011), relative risk (RR) 3.1 (95% CI 2.1 to 4.3); for 2015, corresponding figures were 16% versus 2%, RR 6.8 (95% CI 2.2 to 17). In journal articles, 27% and 22% reported a conflict of interest, while less than 2% of press releases or news ever mentioned these. Conclusions Press releases and associated news did not frequently state funding sources or conflicts of interest. Funding information in press releases was associated with such information in news. Given converging evidence that news draws on press release content, including statements of funding and conflicts of interest in press releases may lead to increased reporting in news.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Psychology
Cardiff University Brain Research Imaging Centre (CUBRIC)
Additional Information: This is an open access article distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 Unported (CC BY 4.0) license
Publisher: BMJ Publishing Group
ISSN: 2044-6055
Funders: ESRC, Wellcome Trust
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 18 November 2020
Date of Acceptance: 18 November 2020
Last Modified: 19 Jan 2021 10:20
URI: http://orca.cf.ac.uk/id/eprint/136465

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