Ensuring Independence in CME Activities

The Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME) expects CME providers to ensure that educational activities are independent, evidence-based, and made free from influence due to financial conflicts of interest.

The goal of this policy is to ensure that conflicts of interest will not influence:

  • Identification of CME needs
  • Determination of educational objectives
  • Selection and presentation of content
  • Selection of all those who will be in a position to control the content of the CME
  • Selection of educational methods
  • Content of educational material
  • Evaluation of the activity

This policy describes how potential conflicts of interest in CME are identified and how actual conflicts are effectively managed by the SCBTMR.

The SCBTMR recognizes the necessity of public-private and academic-industrial interactions in advancing the science and practice of medical care for the benefit of patients. Potential and actual conflicts of interest in educational and research activities are frequent in productive academic environments and it is not realistic or beneficial to attempt to avoid or eliminate them. Instead, the objective of this policy is to ensure that conflicts of interest are identified and effectively managed to ensure the quality of CME provided by the Society.

The essential three steps to accomplish these goals are:

(1) Disclosure.   All individuals involved in organizing, planning, and providing CME for the Society are required to complete or update a standardized SCBTMR financial disclosure prior to each relevant activity.

(2) Review and Recommendation.  The SCBTMR Conflict of Management Committee is responsible for reviewing these disclosures to identify conflicts of interest needing management and to determine the management measures that will be required.

(3) Management.   All individuals involved in organizing, planning and providing CME for the Society are required to comply with the management plan developed by the SCBTMR COI Management Committee.

The ACCME considers financial relationships to create actual conflicts of interest in CME when individuals have a relevant financial interest and the opportunity to affect the content of CME in a subject related to that interest.

Relevant financial interests are reported for the preceding 12 months. These interests include: salaries, royalties, contractual rights to receive future royalties, consulting fees, honoraria, ownership interests (e.g. stocks, stock options or other ownership interest, excluding diversified mutual funds) or other financial benefits that accrue to the individual. These financial benefits may be associated with roles such as employment, management position, independent contractor (including contracted research), consulting, speaking and teaching, membership on advisory committees or review panels, board membership, and other activities from which remuneration benefit is received or expected. The ACCME considers relationships of the person involved in the CME activity to include financial relationships of a spouse or partner.

Relationships involving grants or contracts for sponsored research with commercial entities must be disclosed. Any payments in connection with such research that are not directly related to the reasonable costs of the research (such as specified in a research contract with an academic institution) may be considered to create conflict that must be managed. However, payments to an academic institution that are directly related to reasonable costs in the conduct of a sponsored research project that meets AAMC standards for independence are generally not considered represent a significant financial interest. While properly-conducted sponsored research may not pose a conflict of interest that requires management in CME activities, it is the policy of the SCBT-MR to require disclosure at the time of presentation.

The potential elements of a conflict of interest management plans may include:

  • Documenting that a COI Review and Management process has been accomplished
  • Providing standardized disclosure of financial interest
  • Recusal from planning educational content in which there is a financial interest
  • Review and corroboration of educational content by a non-conflicted individual
  • Disallowing the activity