Opinion, Bias, and Conflict of Interest in Clinical Research Presented by: Kyle Arnoldi, CO Moderator: Linda Colpa, OC(C) Originally presented on Wednesday, March 24, 2021 1.5 Core AOC and COC CEC An opinion is a belief about a topic or issue. Opinions are formed based on the individual’s unique range of experiences and system of reasoning, which may or may not include any facts or knowledge. Bias is a predilection for or against some fact, outcome, or point of view that may make us prone to giving undue favor to supporting evidence or undue neglect to refuting evidence. Bias informs opinion and can lead to prejudgment. Both opinion and bias may be viewed as irrational or unfair and can lead to poor judgment, faulty reasoning, and unsound decision-making. Bias is often hidden, even from the researcher. In contrast, conflict of interest tends to be more obvious. It is a vested interest arising from a relationship (financial, associational, intellectual, or other) between the scientist and an external commitment or authority. Bias can make it difficult for a researcher to identify a confounding variable, lead to flaws in study design, and result in misinterpretation of data and outcomes. The same can be true of conflict of interest, but the influence may be more intentional. Because bias is often subliminal and unconscious, the researcher, writer, and reader must be mindful of its potential to distort conclusions.
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