Academic Influence as Reflected by h Index Is Not Associated With Total Industry Payments but Rather With NIH Funding Among Academic Orthopaedic Sports Medicine Surgeons

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PURPOSE: (1) To compare the total number and dollar amount of industry funding and National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding to academic orthopaedic sports medicine surgeons and (2) to examine the impact of academic influence on industry funding and NIH funding to academic orthopaedic sports medicine surgeons.

METHODS: Academic orthopaedic sports medicine surgeons were identified using faculty web pages. Academic influence was approximated by a physician's Hirsch index (h index) and number of publications and obtained from the Scopus database. Total industry payments were acquired through the Open Payments Database, and NIH funding was determined from the NIH website. Statistical analysis was performed using Mann-Whitney U test and Spearman correlations with significance set at P < .05.

RESULTS: Physicians who received industry research payments and NIH funding had a significantly higher mean h index and more mean total publications than physicians who did not receive industry research payments and NIH funding. There were no significant differences in h index (P = .374) or number of publications (P = .126) between surgeons receiving industry nonresearch funding and those who did not. h Index and number of publications were both weakly correlated with the amount of industry research and nonresearch funding.

CONCLUSION: Although academic influence is associated with industry research funding and NIH funding, there is no association between measures of academic influence and total industry and industry nonresearch payments. Combined with the weak associations between academic influence and the amount of industry payments, academic influence does not appear to be a major determinant of industry funding to academic orthopaedic sports medicine surgeons.

CLINICAL RELEVANCE: Surgeons should be cognizant of potential conflicts with industry, but the relationship between academic sports medicine surgeons and industry may be less subject to bias than previously believed.

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ePub ahead of print