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Industry payments to physician journal editors


Wong, Victoria S. S.; Avalos, Laurel N.; Callaham, Michael L. (2018), Industry payments to physician journal editors, v4, UC San Francisco Dash, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.7272/Q6PK0DBK


Background: Open Paymentsis a United States federal program mandating reporting of medical industry payments to physicians, increasing transparency of physician conflicts of interest (COI).Study objectives were to assess industry payments to physician-editors, and compare their financial COI rate to all physicians within the specialty. 


Methods and Findings: We performed a retrospective analysis of prospectively collected data, reviewing Open Paymentsfrom August 1, 2013 to December 31, 2016. We reviewed general payments (“… not made in connection with a research agreement”) and research funding to “top tier” physician-editors of highly-cited medical journals. We compared payments to physician-editors and physicians-by-specialty. In 35 journals, 333 (74.5%) of 447 “top tier” US-based editors met inclusion criteria. Of these, 212 (63.7%) received industry-associated payments in the study period. In an average year, 141 (42.3%) of physician-editors received any direct payments to themselves including general payments and research payments, 66 (19.8%) received direct payments >$5,000 (National Institutes of Health threshold for a Significant Financial Interest), and 51 (15.3%) received >$10,000. Mean annual general payments to physician-editors was $55,157 (median 3,512, standard deviation 561,885, range 10-10,981,153). Median general payments to physician-editors were mostly higher compared to all physicians within their specialty. Mean annual direct research payment to the physician-editor was $14,558 (median 4,000, range 15-174,440). Mean annual indirect research funding to the physician-editor’s institution (highly valued by academic leaders such as departmental chairs and deans) was $175,282 (median 49,107, range 0.18-5,000,000). The main study limitation was difficulty identifying physician-editorsprimarily responsible for making manuscript decisions.


Conclusions: A substantial minority of physician-editors receive payments from industry within any given year, sometimes quite large. Most editors received payment of some kind during the four-year study period. Given the extent of editors’ influences and control of the medical literature, more robust and accessible editor COI declarations are recommended. 



Dataset was collected from Open Payments government database (publicly available to all), and by a search of senior editors of selected journals. The data filed here represent our descriptive statistics and summary of those data.

Usage Notes

Understanding of the original database, familiarity with citation data, and the medical journal literature.


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