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Original Investigation
June 1, 2017

Association of Gender With Financial Relationships Between Industry and Academic Otolaryngologists

Author Affiliations
  • 1Department of Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery, Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, Newark
  • 2Center for Skull Base and Pituitary Surgery, Neurological Institute of New Jersey, Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, Newark
  • 3Department of Neurological Surgery, Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, Newark
  • 4Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Science, Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, Newark
  • 5Department of Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery, Wayne State University School of Medicine, Detroit, Michigan
  • 6Department of Otolaryngology, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts
  • 7Department of Otolaryngology, Massachusetts Eye and Ear, Boston
  • 8New York Otology, New York, New York and Department of Otolaryngology, Hofstra-Northwell School of Medicine
  • 9Department of Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery, William Beaumont Hospital, Royal Oak, Michigan
JAMA Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. Published online June 1, 2017. doi:10.1001/jamaoto.2017.0276
Key Points

Question  Do gender disparities in industry financial relationships between academic and industry otolaryngologists exist?

Findings  Using a comprehensive database of all full-time academic otolaryngologist that included bibliometric data and industry contributions from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Open Payment Database, we found that male otolaryngologists received greater median contributions than did female otolaryngologists. Overall, a greater proportion of men received industry contributions than women (68.0% vs. 56.1%), and by subspecialty, men had greater median contribution levels among otologists, laryngologists, and rhinologists.

Meaning  A greater proportion of male than female academic otolaryngologists receive contributions from industry, suggesting that gender disparities may exist.

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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