Association of Gender With Financial Relationships Between Industry and Academic Otolaryngologists

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Abstract

Importance

Gender disparities continue to exist in the medical profession, including potential disparities in industry-supported financial contributions. Although there are potential drawbacks to industry relationships, such industry ties have the potential to promote scholarly discourse and increase understanding and accessibility of novel technologies and drugs.

Objectives

To evaluate whether gender disparities exist in relationships between pharmaceutical and/or medical device industries and academic otolaryngologists.

Design, Setting, and Participants

An analysis of bibliometric data and industry funding of academic otolaryngologists.

Main Outcomes and Measures

Industry payments as reported within the CMS Open Payment Database.

Methods

Online faculty listings were used to determine academic rank, fellowship training, and gender of full-time faculty otolaryngologists in the 100 civilian training programs in the United States. Industry contributions to these individuals were evaluated using the CMS Open Payment Database, which was created by the Physician Payments Sunshine Act in response to increasing public and regulatory interest in industry relationships and aimed to increase the transparency of such relationships. The Scopus database was used to determine bibliometric indices and publication experience (in years) for all academic otolaryngologists.

Results

Of 1514 academic otolaryngologists included in this analysis, 1202 (79.4%) were men and 312 (20.6%) were women. In 2014, industry contributed a total of $4.9 million to academic otolaryngologists. $4.3 million (88.5%) of that went to men, in a population in which 79.4% are male. Male otolaryngologists received greater median contributions than did female otolaryngologists (median [interquartile range (IQR)], $211 [$86-$1245] vs $133 [$51-$316]). Median contributions were greater to men than women at assistant and associate professor academic ranks (median [IQR], $168 [$77-$492] vs $114 [$55-$290] and $240 [$87-$1314] vs $166 [$58-$328], respectively). Overall, a greater proportion of men received industry contributions than women (68.0% vs 56.1%,). By subspecialty, men had greater median contribution levels among otologists and rhinologists (median [IQR], $609 [$166-$6015] vs $153 [$56-$336] and $1134 [$286-$5276] vs $425 [$188-$721], respectively).

Conclusions and Relevance

A greater proportion of male vs female academic otolaryngologists receive contributions from industry. These differences persist after controlling for academic rank and experience. The gender disparities we have identified may be owing to men publishing earlier in their careers, with women often surpassing men later in their academic lives, or as a result of previously described gender disparities in scholarly impact and academic advancement.

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