Adherence to conflicts of interest policy in Cochrane reviews where authors are also editorial board members: A cross-sectional analysis
Pacheco RL., Latorraca COC., Martimbianco ALC., Miranda E., Fontes LES., Nunan D., Riera R.
Cochrane devolves most editorial governance of the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews (CDSR), including title prioritization, protocol registration, peer-review, editorial oversight and subsequent review deposition, to specific Cochrane Review Group (CRG) editorial boards. Current Cochrane policy stipulates authors of reviews who are also members of the supporting CRG declare this non-financial conflict of interest and confirm no involvement in the review editorial process. The aim of this cross-sectional analysis was to assess adherence to Cochrane's editorial conflict of interest policy. All 260 published Cochrane reviews (CR) in issues 1 to 6 from 2019 of the CDSR were reviewed. A total of 133 (51.2%, 133/260) of CRs had at least one author that was also listed as an editor in the CRG. Of these, only five (3.8%, 5/133) appropriately declared the conflict according to Cochrane policy. In 6.5% (17/133) CRs, the contact author had a leading editorial position within the CRG and in only four of 17 was this declared according to Cochrane policy. No CR with the contact author who also had a leading editorial position described methods to prevent any potential issues related to this scenario during the editorial process in accordance with Cochrane policy. We propose a specific form to improve the transparency and reliability of editorial conflict of interest reporting in CRs. The suggested form can be adapted to other contexts.