SUMMARY OF BACKGROUND DATA: Researchers' values and beliefs were studied to uncover areas of divergence and to develop guiding principles to assist decision making.
METHODS: An observer used direct observation and survey of the Neck Pain Task Force, facilitated discussion, and developed a "disclosure tool" to collect information about relationships between researchers, funders, and others with a vested interest in the outcome.
RESULTS: Clinicians and research methodologists brought different imperatives to the research process. Clinicians focused on offering useful advice, whereas methodologists guarded investigative rigor to ensure that evidence actually supported advice. Group conflict did not polarize along "clinical discipline lines." The Advisory Committee had greater impact when given a clear task and time to work as a group. The Neck Pain Task Force agreed on a set of "guiding principles," which became an overarching doctrine to guide their work. The disclosure questionnaires described relationships between Neck Pain Task Force members and other entities that might have had a financial interest in the topic.
CONCLUSION: This study describes a process used to assess values, beliefs, and conflicts of interest among members of a scientific task force, and how this was used to create "guiding principles" to assist the research team in deliberations, particularly when conflict arose. Most members of the Neck Pain Task Force had potential conflicts of interest with various stakeholders, but there was marked diffusion of these potential conflicts and no evidence that any funder or other vested interest stakeholder was likely to have a significant impact on the deliberations or conclusions of the Neck Pain Task Force.
This abstract is reproduced with the permission of the publisher. Click on the above link for the PubMed record; full text by subscription. Republished from: Spine 2008 Feb 15;33(4 Suppl):S24-32. Free full text is available through PubMed Central.