Jim McCambridge & Melissa Mialon; Alcohol industry involvement in science; A systematic review of the perspectives of the alcohol research community ; Drug and Alcohol Review 2018


Issues. Alcohol companies have recently invested large sums of money in answering research questions to which they have clear vested interests in the outcomes. There have been extensive concerns about corporate influence on public health sciences, following the experience with the tobacco industry. Approach. This systematic review aims to investigate the perspectives of researchers on the activities of alcohol industry actors in relation to science, in order to guide future research. All data published in peer-reviewed journals (including commentaries, opinion pieces, editorials and letters as well as research reports) were eligi- ble for inclusion. This analysis focuses on the manifest rather than latent content of the articulated views, and accordingly adopts a thematic analysis using an inductive approach to the generation of themes. Key Findings. There are serious con- cerns identified in three main areas, principally defined by where the impacts of industry scientific activities occur; on evidence informed policy making (instrumental uses of research by industry actors), on the content of the scientific evidence base itself (industry funding as a source of bias); and on the processes of undertaking research (transgressions of basic scientific norms). There are also opposing views which provide a useful critique. The evidence-base on the validity of all concerns has been slow to develop. Implications. The concerns are extensive, longstanding and unresolved and high quality investigations are needed. Conclusion. This study informs the detailed content of the research needed to address the concerns identified here.

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