Background: A significant increase in industry support of professional medical associations coupled with data suggesting that gifts from industry have significant clinical influence have prompted calls from the Institute of Medicine and physician leaders to identify and manage conflicts of interest that stem from financial support of professional medical associations by industry. Study Design: A joint task force of members appointed by the Association for Academic Surgery and the Society of University Surgeons was convened in July 2009. Recommendations were developed regarding management of all potential conflicts of interest that can arise within the context of an academic surgical society, with specific focus on relationships with industry. Task force members reached consensus around each recommendation and the guidelines were subsequently adopted by the Executive Councils of both societies. Results: The committee identified 4 primary areas of need for transparent and definitive management of conflict of interest: 1) individual society activities, including general budget support, society endorsements, and journal affiliation; 2) individual personnel conflicts such as society leadership and standards for disclosure of conflict; 3) meeting activities including budgetary support, program committee associations, and abstract review process; and 4) foundation support and research and travel awards. The resulting guidelines aim to protect the societies and their membership from undue bias that may undermine the credibility and mission of these associations. Conclusions: Policy guidelines to mitigate conflict of interest are necessary to protect the integrity of the work of academic surgical societies and their fiduciary duty to members and patients. Guidelines created and adopted by the Association for Academic Surgery and Society of University Surgeons form an effective model for academic surgical societies and their members.
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