Intended for healthcare professionals

Feature Conflicts of Interest

Why religious belief should be declared as a competing interest

BMJ 2018; 361 doi: (Published 12 April 2018) Cite this as: BMJ 2018;361:k1456

This article has a correction. Please see:

  1. Richard Smith, former editor of The BMJ1,
  2. Jane Blazeby, professor of surgery2
  1. 1London, UK
  2. 2Bristol, UK
  1. Correspondence to: R Smith richardswsmith{at}

People’s faith can have a profound effect on their views on matters such as assisted dying and abortion, and disclosure is essential to provide full context for interpretation, argue Richard Smith and Jane Blazeby

“If in doubt, declare a competing interest” is standard teaching in ethics. Hiding a competing interest hints at dishonesty, raising doubts about the integrity of what has been written or said. It thus seems elementary that you should declare a religious competing interest because faith and other non-financial competing interests often have a profound effect on people’s views.1 Yet people with deep religious beliefs and other non-financial competing interests often do not make such a declaration,1 perhaps believing it to be a private matter or because of the tendency to focus on financial conflicts of interest.

Religious conflicts of interest are important in …

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