Male Physicians Receive More Money From Industry Than Women Doctors

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
“Doctors” by Tele Jane is licensed under CC BY 2.0
Kathryn R. Tringale, MAS
Department of Radiation Medicine and Applied Sciences
University of California San Diego, La Jolla

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Financial relationships between biomedical industry and physicians are common, and previous work has investigated the potential conflicts of interest that can arise from these interactions.

Data show that even small payments in the form of industry sponsored lunches can influence physician prescribing patterns. Given the concern for the potential influence of biomedical industry over practice patterns and potentially patient care, the Open Payments program was implemented under the Affordable Care Act to shed light on these interactions and make reports of these financial transactions publicly available. We recently published a paper in JAMA on industry payments to physicians that found that men received a higher value and greater number of payments than women physicians and were more likely to receive royalty or licensing payments when grouped by type of specialty (surgeons, primary care, specialists, interventionalists).

The purpose of the Research Letter discussed here was to further examine differences in the value of payments received by male and female physicians within each individual specialty. The main takeaway from this study is that male physicians, across almost every specialty, are receive more money from biomedical industry compared to female physicians. At first glance, this finding can be interpreted as merely another example of gender disparities in the workplace, which we have seen before with gender gaps in physician salaries and research funding. Indeed, this gender gap may be a product of industry bias leading to unequal opportunity for women to engage in these profitable relationships. Alternatively, these data may be more representative of gender differences in physician decision-making. Previous data has shown that industry engagement can lead to changes in practice patterns, so maybe female physicians acknowledge these conflicts of interest and actively choose not to engage with industry. Unfortunately, we cannot tease out these subtleties from our results, but our paper does reveal a remarkable gender difference among physician engagement with industry.

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Should Money Be Used To Encourage Breastfeeding?

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
“Breastfeeding welcome here” by Newtown grafitti is licensed under CC BY 2.0
Clare Relton, PhD
School of Health and Related Research
University of Sheffield, Sheffield, England

MedicalResearch.com: What are the key findings of your report?

Response: Our five year research project explored whether offering financial incentives (shopping vouchers) for breastfeeding increased breastfeeding. We studied what happened to breastfeeding rates at 6 to 8 weeks post-partum in areas in England with low (<40%) breastfeeding prevalence. Our cluster randomized clinical trial (which included 10 010 mother-infant dyads) showed that areas with the financial incentive had significantly higher rates of breastfeeding at 6 to 8 weeks (37.9% vs 31.7%) compared to usual care.

The financial incentive scheme was widely acceptable to healthcare providers (midwives, health visitors, doctors) and mothers. The financial incentives made it easier for everyone to discuss breastfeeding and mothers reported feeling valued (supported and rewarded) for breastfeeding.

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Hypertension Control: Financial Incentives Effects

Laura A. Petersen, MD, MPH MEDVAMC Associate Chief of Staff, Research Director, VA HSR&D Center of Excellence (152) 2002 Holcombe Blvd. Houston TX 77030 Professor of Medicine Chief, Section of Health Services Research Baylor College of Medicine www.houston.hsrd.research.va.govAshley Motter HSR&D Center of Excellence Michael E. DeBakey Veterans Affairs Medical CenterMedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Laura A. Petersen, MD, MPH

MEDVAMC Associate Chief of Staff, Research
Director, VA HSR&D Center of Excellence (152)
Houston TX 77030
Professor of Medicine
Chief, Section of Health Services Research
Baylor College of Medicine
HSR&D Center of Excellence
Michael E. DeBakey Veterans Affairs Medical Center
Houston, Texas 77030

MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings of the study?

Dr. Petersen: VA physicians randomized to the individual incentive group were more likely than controls to improve their treatment of hypertension.  The adjusted changes over the study period in Veterans meeting the combined BP/appropriate response measure were 8.8 percentage points for the individual-level, 3.7 for the practice-level, 5.5 for the combined, and 0.47 for the control groups.  Therefore, a physician in the individual group caring for 1000 patients with hypertension would have about 84 additional patients achieving blood pressure control or appropriate response after 1 year.  The effect of the incentive was not sustained after the washout period. Although performance did not decline to pre-intervention levels, the decline was significant.  None of the incentives resulted in increased incidence of hypotension compared with controls.  While the use of guideline-recommended medications increased significantly over the course of the study in the intervention groups, there was no significant change compared to the control group.  The mean individual incentive earnings over the study represented approximately 1.6% of a physician’s salary, assuming a mean salary of $168,000.
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