Statements of interest
Declaration of interest
All contributors involved in development of the new edition were asked to sign a letter agreement that outlined their roles and responsibilities in the Handbook’s development. This covered the contributors’ agreement to disclose possible conflicts of interest, as well as their obligations in relation to authorship, confidentiality and use of copyright material.
Contributors completed a detailed statement of interest form. This was requested at the start of their period of involvement and contributors were asked to provide an update if this subsequently changed. These detailed forms were held on file by the Secretariat. Prose descriptions of the statements of interest for Guideline Committee members were obtained for publication.
Managing potential conflicts of interest
All statement of interest forms were reviewed by the Secretariat for potential conflicts. The stated policy was to exclude any contributor with connections to the tobacco industry; however, no potential contributors had any such interests. Many primary care contributors had no interests to declare.
Our approach was based on transparency. Contributors were asked to verbally summarise their interests at the initial meeting of each working group and the Guideline Committee, and to provide an update if these had changed. The Secretariat ensured the verbal summaries matched the statements held on record. Members of the Secretariat also stated their interests.
The Committee and working groups developed recommendations and considered evidence using a consensus model. Any potential conflicts were managed by the respective working group Chairs within the discussion process. Further steps would have been to exclude the conflicted contributor from voting on finalisation of the recommendation or to involve the Guidelines Committee Chair in resolving the issue; however, these steps were not needed.
The National Asthma Council Australia self-funded the majority of the development costs of the Australian Asthma Handbook. The remainder of the development costs was funded by unrestricted sponsorship. The National Asthma Council Australia's funding sources are sponsorship from the pharmaceutical companies in asthma, government program funding, donations and its cause-related marketing program, Sensitive Choice.
Strict editorial independence was maintained by the secretariat, Guidelines Committee and all contributors in developing the content. The views and interests of the National Asthma Council Australia and its funders, including the Handbook sponsors, have not influenced the content of the guidelines.