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Original Investigation |

Representation of Women With Industry Ties in Ophthalmology

Ashvini K. Reddy, MD1; Gregory W. Bounds, BS2; Sophie J. Bakri, MD3; Lynn K. Gordon, MD, PhD4; Justine R. Smith, FRANZCO, PhD5; Julia A. Haller, MD6; Jennifer E. Thorne, MD, PhD1,7
[+] Author Affiliations
1Wilmer Eye Institute, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland
2University of Texas School of Public Health, Houston
3Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota
4Stein Eye Institute, David Geffen School of Medicine, University of California, Los Angeles
5Flinders University, Adelaide, South Australia
6Wills Eye Hospital, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
7Department of Epidemiology, Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, Maryland
JAMA Ophthalmol. 2016;134(6):636-643. doi:10.1001/jamaophthalmol.2016.0552.
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Importance  Women in ophthalmology are growing in number and have made strides in traditional metrics of professional achievement. Professional ties to industry represent another potential means of career advancement, recognition, and income.

Objective  To report the representation of women among ophthalmologists receiving industry remuneration for research, consulting, honoraria, grants, royalties, and faculty/speaker roles.

Design, Setting, and Participants  In this observational, retrospective study, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Open Payments database for payments to ophthalmologists by biomedical companies was reviewed for representation, median payments, and mean payments by women and men for industry relationships in 2013 and 2014. The analysis was performed from July 2015 to November 2015.

Main Outcomes and Measures  The primary outcome measures were percentage representation of women vs men overall and in industry research, consulting, speaking roles, royalties and licenses, grants, services other than consulting, and honoraria. Secondary outcome measures included mean and median payments from industry to female vs male ophthalmologists.

Results  In 2013, 4164 of 21 380 (19.5%) ophthalmologists were women, and of 1204 ophthalmologists analyzed for industry payments, 176 (4.2%) women had industry ties compared with 1028 (6%) men (P < .001). Mean payments to women were $11 419 compared with $20 957 for men (P = .001), and median payments to women were $3000 compared with $4787 for men (P = .007). In 2013, women were underrepresented among ophthalmologists receiving industry payments for research (49 of 462 [10.6%]), consulting (96 of 610 [15.7%]), honoraria (3 of 47 [6.4%]), industry grants (1 of 7 [14.3%]), royalties and licenses (1 of 13 [7.7%]), and faculty/speaker roles (2 of 48 [4.2%]). In 2014, 4352 of 21 531 (20.2%) of ophthalmologists were women. Of 1518 ophthalmologists analyzed for industry payments, 255 (6%) women had industry ties compared with 1263 (7.4%) men (P < .001). Mean payments to women were $14 848 compared with $30 513 for men (P = .004), and median payments to women were $3750 compared with $5000 for men (P = .005). Women remained underrepresented among ophthalmologists receiving industry payments for research (25 of 241 [10.4%]), consulting (145 of 921 [15.7%]), honoraria (14 of 11 [12.6%]), industry grants (3 of 25 [12.0%]), royalties and licenses (1 of 22 [4.6%]), and faculty/speaker roles (21 of 189 [11.1%]) in 2014.

Conclusions and Relevance  Women make up a minority of ophthalmologists with professional industry relationships, and the average woman partnering with industry earns less than her male colleagues. The reasons for differences are multifactorial and could not be determined by this study.

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Figure 1.
2013 Industry Payments to Men and Women

The graph is skewed to include outliers (values above the 75th percentile +3/2 × the interquartile range and values below the 25th percentile –3/2 × the interquartile range). Median values are indicated by hollow diamonds.

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Figure 2.
2014 Industry Payments to Men and Women

The graph is skewed to include outliers (values above the 75th percentile +3/2 × the interquartile range and values below the 25th percentile –3/2 × the interquartile range). Median values are indicated by hollow diamonds.

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