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PLoS One. 2015 Jun 11;10(6):e0129197. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0129197. eCollection 2015.

Gender Differences in Physicians' Financial Ties to Industry: A Study of National Disclosure Data.

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Department of Bioethics, Cleveland Clinic, Cleveland, Ohio, United States of America; Department of Medicine, Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine of Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio, United States of America.
Department of Bioethics, Cleveland Clinic, Cleveland, Ohio, United States of America.
Innovation Management and Conflict of Interest Program, Cleveland Clinic, Cleveland, Ohio, United States of America.
Quantitative Health Sciences, Cleveland Clinic, Cleveland, Ohio, United States of America.



Academic literature extensively documents gender disparities in the medical profession with regard to salary, promotion, and government funded research. However, gender differences in the value of financial ties to industry have not been adequately studied despite industry's increasing contribution to income and research funding to physicians in the U.S.


We analyzed publicly reported financial relationships among 747,603 physicians and 432 pharmaceutical, device and biomaterials companies. Demographic and payment information were analyzed using hierarchical regression models to determine if statistically significant gender differences exist in physician-industry interactions regarding financial ties, controlling for key covariates. In 2011, 432 biomedical companies made an excess of $17,991,000 in payments to 220,908 physicians. Of these physicians, 75.1% were male. Female physicians, on average, received fewer total dollars (-$3,598.63, p<0.001) per person than men. Additionally, female physicians received significantly lower amounts for meals (-$41.80, p<0.001), education (-$1,893.14, p<0.001), speaker fees (-$2,898.44, p<0.001), and sponsored research (-$15,049.62, p=0.05). For total dollars, an interaction between gender and institutional reputation was statistically significant, implying that the differences between women and men differed based on industry's preference for an institution, with larger differences at higher reputation institutions.


Female physicians receive significantly lower compensation for similarly described activities than their male counterparts after controlling for key covariates. As regulations lead to increased transparency regarding these relationships, efforts to standardize compensation should be considered to promote equitable opportunities for all physicians.

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