Does Industry Funding Mean More Publications for Academic Plastic Surgeons?
Qing Zhao Ruan1, Justin Cohen1, Yoonji Baek2, Patrick Bletsis1, Arthur Celestin1, Sherise Epstein3, Alexandra Bucknor1, Max Flecha-Hirsch1, Bernard T. Lee1.
1Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston, MA, USA, 2Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, Boston, MA, USA, 3Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Boston, MA, USA.
Background & Purpose:
Conflict of interest among physicians in the context of private industry funding is often in the limelight. This concern regarding bias in research and clinical decision making led to the introduction of the Physician Payments Sunshine Act in 2010. This study examines whether private industry funding correlates with scholarly productivity in academic plastic surgeons.
Full-time plastic surgeons and their academic attributes were identified via institutional websites. The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Open Payment database was used to extract industry funding details for each faculty member. Each individual's bibliometric data were then collected through Scopus to determine the correlation between selected surgeon characteristics, academic productivity, and industry funding.
Nine hundred thirty-five academic plastic surgeons were identified with 726 (77.6%) receiving industry funding. Plastic surgeons that received funding in research attained significantly higher scholastic output in h-index compared to their counterparts who received no funding (p= 0.014) or purely non-research contributions (p= 0.0002). The h-index increased in tandem with academic seniority (p= 0.012) and industry funding. A more highly funded surgeon (payments >$2,000) was significantly more productive after controlling for academic seniority and fellowship subspecialties. However, the proportion of surgeons with industry funding was not correlated with rank or seniority.
Our study demonstrates for the first time the direct correlation between greater industry funding and higher academic bibliometrics in plastic surgery. Financial injection through industry promotes research and therefore academic output. However faculty members with strong research history are equally likely to be actively sought by the industry for opportunities of funding.
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