The Code of Ethics of the American Academy of Audiology is a set of principles intended to specify “professional standards that allow for the proper discharge of audiologists’ responsibilities to those served, and that protect the integrity of the profession” (American Academy of Audiology, 2016). Membership in the Academy requires that the member agrees to provide services in a manner that is consistent with the principles of the Code of Ethics. 

Although the updated guidelines presented in this document focus on issues surrounding conflicts of interest, it is recognized that while all gifts have the ability to influence decision-making, other factors also affect clinical decisions, including product pricing, durability, features, customer service, patient needs, etc. The practitioner weighs many variables, and thus may feel immune to the “gift effect.” The following guidelines are provided to help the practitioner keep the “gift effect” in mind while making clinical decisions. In combination with evidence-based design of products and evidence-based practice in audiology, such guidelines substantiate the commitment of the members of the American Academy of Audiology to uphold the highest values in patient care in the practice of audiology.

The guidelines provided in this document supersede the previous American Academy of Audiology documents, 2003 Ethical Practice Guidelines on Financial Incentives from Hearing Instrument Manufacturers and 2014 Ethical Practice Guideline for Relationships with Industry for Audiologists Providing Clinical Care.

Key Points

The scope of the guideline addresses the relationships between industry and providers of patient care. However, another important special consideration for some audiologists is management of potential conflicts of interest in research relationships with industry. Research and development is crucial for continued advancement in diagnosis and treatment of patients with hearing and/or balance disorders. Productive research relationships between industry and audiologists positively impact the knowledge base and innovation in clinical care. Relationships between industry and audiologists involved in research can be very complex and take multiple forms. Although this is a very important topic, discussion of management of conflicts of interest in research relationships is outside the scope of this guideline.

Get Involved

Whether serving on a clinical document development panel or participating as peer reviewers, volunteers have regular chances to deepen their engagement with the Academy and make important contributions benefiting the field of audiology. If you are interested in clinical document development, please volunteer to express interest and submit a CV to the Academy’s guidelines staff by email.

To view the list of guidelines and strategic documents in development and to learn more about the Academy’s clinical document development process, visit the Academy’s Practice Resources website. Information from interested members is accepted on an ongoing basis, and members will be contacted as clinical document volunteer openings occur.

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