National Institutes of Health career development (K) awards mandate specific allocations of effort to research and training. The authors sought to understand pressures perceived by award recipients to change or misrepresent effort, and whether these perceptions differed by gender.
In 2010–2011 and 2014, the authors surveyed K08 and K23 award recipients. Questions evaluated perceived pressure to change or misrepresent time allocation. Multivariable logistic regression modeling of pressure to misrepresent effort evaluated associations with individual and basic job characteristics.
Of the 1,719 faculty in the initial target population, 493 women and 573 men (1,066, 62%) responded at both time points. Most respondents reported feeling pressure to increase time spent on professional activities other than their K award-related research or career development or to decrease time on their K award-related research. The likelihood of perceiving pressure differed significantly by gender: 68% of women vs 55% of men (P
< .001). A minority reported perceiving pressure to misrepresent professional time (women, 29%, vs men, 27%, P
= .52). Multivariable analysis revealed that pressure to misrepresent professional time was less likely among respondents at institutions with the most extramural funding (P
= .02). A significant pairwise interaction between gender and K award type suggested that female K08 awardees had higher odds than male peers of perceiving pressure to misrepresent time.
Most K award recipients reported feeling pressure to do more non-K award-related activities. More than a quarter reported feeling pressure to misrepresent effort. Additional research is needed to evaluate the proportion of academic medical faculty who actually misrepresent professional effort.