Disclose Bias, Boost Patient Trust Sure, presenters and researchers need to disclose conflicts of interest. But what about clinicians? They’re no exception Make It Work
Make It Work  |   October 01, 2014
Disclose Bias, Boost Patient Trust
Author Notes
  • Renee Levinson, MA, CCC-A, is associate director for ASHA continuing education. rlevinson@asha.org
    Renee Levinson, MA, CCC-A, is associate director for ASHA continuing education. rlevinson@asha.org×
Article Information
Research Issues, Methods & Evidence-Based Practice / Professional Issues & Training / Make It Work
Make It Work   |   October 01, 2014
Disclose Bias, Boost Patient Trust
The ASHA Leader, October 2014, Vol. 19, 26. doi:10.1044/leader.MIW.19102014.26
The ASHA Leader, October 2014, Vol. 19, 26. doi:10.1044/leader.MIW.19102014.26
Have you noticed lately that conflict-of-interest disclosures pop up everywhere? Barely a day goes by when you don’t notice something referring to “full disclosure” on the radio, in a newspaper or blog, or on television. The other day I saw a TV advertisement with a talking chicken that “disclosed” that he is antibiotic-free.
What’s this trend about and why? Who does it affect? And why should it make a difference in your practice as an audiologist or speech-language pathologist?
Disclosure and continuing education courses
Many of us have either read or heard conflict-of-interest disclosures at the start of a presentation. Course planners and instructors for all classes offered for ASHA CEUs must disclose relevant financial and nonfinancial relationships to participants. An instructor has a financial relationship if, for example, the instructor owns stock in a company that manufactures a device included in the presentation.
Nonfinancial relationships also may create bias and are equally important. If an instructor sits on the board of directors of an organization related to the presentation topic—even if he or she receives no compensation for that role—the instructor must disclose the relationship.
Instructors who are prominent in their field and have years of experience may have forged financial and nonfinancial relationships in the process of developing their expertise. Disclosures help you know more about the instructor, what relationship he or she brings to the presentation, and if those circumstances are aligned with your educational needs.
Disclosure and academic institutions
What about disclosures in other situations involving audiologists and SLPs? Many academic institutions have disclosure policies for faculty who receive research funds. Academic institutions may also have conflict-of-interest policies related to students’ participation in off-campus continuing education programs, particularly in situations involving travel funds and other expenses provided by the organization offering the continuing education program. There could be a real or perceived bias related to funding or gifting of funds.
In general, disclosures give an audience information that helps them to better integrate the presented information and to form their own opinions.
Disclosure and you
How about you? You may have a personal or professional bias that affects your work and decisions. For example, perhaps you have a brother who is deaf. His situation might have not only influenced you to become an audiologist, it may also have biased your opinion about a specific type of cochlear implant because of how well it worked for him. These circumstances don’t pose a financial relationship, but they do create a relationship that has influenced you.
Perhaps you have been an invited speaker for a specific device. Because you could be perceived as having a bias about that device, you would want to disclose your financial/nonfinancial relationship with the device manufacturer to your clients, especially if you suggest the client use that device. Once again, being transparent allows others to be aware of your perspective and your experiences. Your willingness to disclose your relationships may create even greater trust with your colleagues and clients and enhance communication.
When in doubt—if you’re not sure if a relationship creates bias or a perception of bias—disclose, to clients and colleagues. It’s the best way to manage situations in which you are sharing clinical or professional information.
For information about transparency and disclosure requirements for ASHA CE course instructors and planners, visit on.asha.org/ce-presenters.
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October 2014
Volume 19, Issue 10