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Conflict of Interest

NAN Conflict of Interest Ad-Hoc Committee

The Task Force on Conflict of Interest (Task Force) was formed by the Policies and Procedures Committee of the National Academy of Neuropsychology (NAN) in December 2002 to respond to concerns of conflict of interest raised by the general membership at the annual NAN meeting in Miami in October 2002. The Task Force's charge was to examine issues of conflict of interest as they related to NAN and to arrive at specific recommendations, policies and procedures, and implementation strategies. The Task Force has expressly focused on matters of non-trivial conflict of interest and not on more general issues of practice ethics. One main objective of the Task Force has been to increase awareness of NAN leaders and members to issues of conflict of interest.

Below is the introduction to the COI Final Report, which can be downloaded in Adobe Acrobat (.PDF) and MS Word (.DOC) formats.

Subsequent to the report of the task force, the NAN Board voted unanimously to adopt the findings of the COI Task Force (on 10/14/03), and to appoint it as an Ad-Hoc Committee:

The current membership of the Conflict of Interest Committee is as follows:

  • Mark Sandberg, Ph.D., Chair
  • Barry Ardolf, Psy.D.
  • J. Porter Evans, Ph.D., Psy.D.
  • Jill Hayes, Ph.D.
  • Robert Leark, Ph.D.

Over the course of the next six months, the Task Force has engaged in fact finding activity and extensive deliberations regarding the need for conflict of interest policies and procedures for NAN. The COI Task Force reviewed pertinent NAN correspondence, considered the factual circumstances pertaining to the recent NAN annual conference in Miami, interviewed the NAN Treasurer and Executive Director, and obtained and reviewed relevant conflict of interest policies, including the Association Rules of the American Psychological Association (APA), the APA Financial Conflict of Interest Policy, and the conflict of interest policy of Duke University.

The COI Task Force, came to the following findings and conclusions:

  1. NAN has grown rapidly as a national professional organization, and the scope and complexity of its financial and other activities have increased correspondingly;
  2. We are concerned about past and possible ongoing conflicts of interest among the NAN leadership, and also about the potential for future conflicts of interest among the NAN leadership;
  3. There currently are no NAN policies or procedures regarding conflict of interest that apply either to the NAN leadership or its general membership;
  4. There is currently a strong, compelling, and immediate need for NAN to develop and implement a comprehensive conflict of interest policy and related procedures that will define, increase awareness of, monitor, regulate, and remedy both potential and actual conflicts of interest among the NAN leadership. Such a policy will help educate and prepare the NAN leadership to handle potential and actual conflicts of interest as they arise.

Conflicts of interest are a "set of conditions in which professional judgment concerning a primary interest...tends to be unduly influenced by a secondary interest (such as financial gain)." 1, 2 In the course of representing and serving the NAN membership, conflicts of interest can arise for Board of Director members, Committee chairs, and other NAN leaders in the form of relationships or personal interests that undermine professional objectivity, influence decision-making, and/or adversely affect the welfare of the organization.

The range of possible conflicts of interest affecting a national organization like NAN is broad. Potential conflicts of interest may arise in circumstances in which Board members and Committee chairs, their friends, and/or their family, may benefit financially or personally from contracts with vendors to NAN. For example, there is potential for conflict in matters associated with NAN convention arrangements that may include the selection of airlines, hotels, travel agencies/packages, food supplies, exhibitors, and test publishers. There may be similar potential for financial conflicts of interest with regard to NAN arrangements with printing/publishing firms, research granting agencies, journal production, and the procurement of paid speakers and workshop trainers.

Other kinds of potential conflict of interest can involve divided or competing commitments to other professional and volunteer organizations. Thus, there can be a form of organizational conflict of interest when Board members, Committee chairs, and other NAN leaders have ties to similar or related professional organizations. This is especially true if these other organizations are in competition with NAN for member involvement and revenues. In such circumstances, the activities undertaken for the other organization can have an adverse and even negative impact on NAN.

It should be noted that both perceived and actual conflicts of interest can be damaging to a national organization like NAN. Thus, by undertaking leadership positions within NAN, Board members and other NAN leaders assume a form of fiduciary relationship to the NAN organization and should comport themselves in a manner that enhances the reputation and best interests of the organization.

In formulating these recommendations and the proposed policies and procedures that follow, Task Force members have reviewed a number of existing conflict of interest policies, including the Principles of Ethical Conduct promulgated by the American Psychological Association (APA) as guidelines for individual practitioners. The APA ethical guidelines promote the welfare and safety of the general public by setting forth principles for the clinical, educational, and research behavior of individual APA members. These principles, particularly those associated with dual relationships (e.g., Principles 3.04, 3.05, and 3.06), have direct relevance to the concerns brought before this Task Force, and are incorporated by reference into the proposed NAN Conflict of Interest Policy (see below). However, as NAN is an independent organization, it is our judgment that there is a need for specific NAN conflict of interest policies and procedures that set forth and clarify the ethical responsibilities of Board members, Committee chairs, and other NAN leaders at the organizational level.

The CIO Task Force, proposed the following conflict of interest policies and procedures:

  1. a NAN Conflict of Interest Policy (Section II below);
  2. Conflict of Interest Disclosure Form and related disclosure procedures (Section III below); and
  3. Recommendations for NAN Conflict of Interest Policy Implementation (Section IV below).

The members of the Task Force appreciate the opportunity to serve the NAN Policies and Procedures Committee, the NAN Board, and the general NAN membership, with respect to these issues. We look forward to the comments and response of the Policies and Procedures Committee and the NAN Board to the recommended policies and procedures. Please let us know how we can be of further assistance.

On behalf of the NAN Task Force on Conflict of Interest,

Sincerely,

Daniel Marson, JD, PhD Chair
J.D. Ball, PhD
Bruce Becker, PhD
Gordon Chelune, PhD
Carl Dodrill, PhD
Michael Franzen, PhD
Kathleen Welsh-Bohmer, PhD

(2003)