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Financial Disclosures Reported by Industry Among Authors of the American Academy of Ophthalmology Clinical Practice Guidelines.

JAMA Ophthalmology 2023 March 17
IMPORTANCE: Recommendations of clinical guidelines affect physicians' care delivery. Potential bias and undeclared conflicts of interests (COIs) among guideline authors can impact clinical practice decisions.

OBJECTIVE: To assess financial disclosures reported by physician authors of the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) Practice Pattern Guidelines compared with those reported by industry to evaluate the disclosures' accuracy.

DESIGN, SETTING, AND PARTICIPANTS: In this cross-sectional study, all clinical guidelines in the AAO Preferred Practice Patterns (PPP) since 2013 (first year with publicly available industry payment reports) were reviewed on May 1, 2022. Guideline physician authors' name and their reported COI disclosure were extracted from the guideline publication. Payments to physician authors reported by industry were retrieved from the US Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Open Payments database. Physician authors serving on the AAO guideline committee were included.

MAIN OUTCOMES AND MEASURES: The primary outcome measure was the accuracy of authors' COIs disclosure. Secondary outcome measures were payments to physician authors reported by industry, the types of payments, and authors' gender.

RESULTS: A total of 24 AAO guidelines released between 2016 and 2020 were included. Per guideline, there was a mean (SD) of 7.83 (2.24) physician authors. After removing 14 nonphysician authors, 188 physician author names remained, including 83 names assigned as women (44.1%) and 105 names assigned as men (55.9%). Authors could be counted multiple times in these 188 names. According to the Open Payments database, industry reported that 112 of 188 physician authors (59.6%) had at least received 1 payment while serving on the guideline committee, with a payment mean (SD) of $29 849.35 ($54 131.56). According to AAO guidelines, 149 authors (79.3%) had no financial disclosures while serving on the guideline committee. Among these 149 authors, most authors (81 [54.4%]) had payments reported by industry on the Open Payments database not disclosed within the guideline reports. Women physicians were paid significantly more than men for total payments (median [IQR] payments, $15 265 [$598.47-$41 104.67] vs $301.48 [$218.85-$14 615.09]; difference, $14 963.52; P = .003).

CONCLUSIONS AND RELEVANCE: Industry reported physician guideline authors to have received significant industry payments, some of which were not disclosed within information of the guidelines. To strengthen author transparency regarding these reported disclosures, the authors may want to review and resolve such potential discrepancies during the review and subsequent publication of guidelines.

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