Although industry payments to physicians and surgeons continued to be a source of contention, connections between industry and orthopedic surgeons were strengthening. Notably, despite the passage of the Physician Payments Sunshine Act in 2010, subsequent assessments had revealed considerable increases in the rate and quantity of payments among orthopedic surgeons. Given the concerns about how these ties may impact the peer-review process, researchers conducted a study to see how payments among orthopedic journal editorial board members evolved over time.
All orthopedic journals with a 2019 impact factor of ≥1.5 were identified using the Clarivate Analytics Impact Factor tool. Next, the editorial boards of these publications were found via the websites of each journal. Following that, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ Open Payments database was queried to determine industry payments received by these board members between 2014 and 2019. The volume and amount of payments were then examined and contrasted during the research. Finally, inflation was applied to all monetary values.
The study covered a total of 18 orthopedic publications. In 2019, 711 (46.81%) of the 1,519 editorial board members listed got industry remuneration. During the study period, total, average, and median payments dropped for 6 (31.6%), 7 (36.8%), and 8 (44.44%) of the included journals, respectively. On average, 620 board members were paid more in 2019 than in 2014.
The research found that editorial board members of high-impact orthopedic publications received a significant percentage of industry payments. Furthermore, they found a significant increase in the total, average, and median magnitude of these payments since the Open Payments database’s inception. The findings highlighted the need for openness in associated payments to guarantee a fair and unbiased peer-review process free of excessive industry influence.