Can Industry-Funded CE/CME Be Unbiased? Current Insights on an Old Question
Over the years, multiple reports and editorials have asserted that continuing education/continuing medical education (CE/CME) that is funded by the pharmaceutical or device industry is biased in favor of the funder’s product(s). But starting in the early 2000’s, several stakeholder organizations began establishing guidance to prevent such bias, and currently there are many protections in place. In particular, the Accrediting Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME), the accrediting body for all national organizations that provide CE/CME, established and continues to update specific standards to prevent bias, and all ACCME-accredited organizations must comply with these and other standards to maintain their accreditation in good standing. A careful review of the literature has identified just a few studies that explore the question of bias in CE/CME, all published from 2010 – 2012. None of these studies found evidence of bias in CE/CME, and no empirical studies on the topic have since been published. Thus it seems that the protections in place are working, although more rigorous and definitive research is needed. Nevertheless, continued vigilance is paramount, and medical writers play an important role in providing oversight of CE/CME by ensuring that content they develop is fair and unbiased, as well as accurate and intended to promote optimal patient care.
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