Plastic Surgeons’ Perceptions of Financial Conflicts of Interest and the Sunshine Act

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Abstract

Background:

It is unknown whether recent legislation known as the Physician Payments Sunshine Act has affected plastic surgeons’ views of conflicts of interest (COI). The purpose of this study was to evaluate plastic surgeons’ beliefs about COI and their comprehension of the government-mandated Sunshine Act.

Methods:

Plastic surgeon members of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons were invited to complete an electronic survey. The survey contained 27 questions that assessed respondents’ past and future receipt of financial gifts from industry, awareness of the Sunshine Act, and beliefs surrounding the influence of COI on surgical practice.

Results:

A total of 322 individuals completed the survey. A majority had previously accepted gifts from industry (n = 236; 75%) and would accept future gifts (n = 181; 58%). Most respondents believed that COI would affect their colleagues’ medical practice (n = 190; 61%) but not their own (n = 165; 51%). A majority was aware of the Sunshine Act (n = 272; 89%) and supported data collection on surgeon COI (n = 224; 73%). A larger proportion of young surgeons believed patients would benefit from knowing their surgeon’s COI (P = 0.0366). Surgeons who did not expect COI in the future believed financial COI could affect their own clinical practice (P = 0.0221).

Conclusions:

Most plastic surgeons have a history of accepting industry gifts but refute their influence on personal clinical practice. Surgeon age and anticipation of future COI affected beliefs about the benefits of COI disclosure to patients and the influence of COI on surgical practice.

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