Conflicts of interest (COI) are an emerging area of discussion within the field of plastic surgery. Recently, several reports have found that research studies that disclose COI are associated with publication of positive outcomes. We hypothesize that this association is driven by higher-quality studies receiving industry funding. This study aimed to investigate the association between industry support and study methodological quality.
We reviewed all entries in Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, Annals of Plastic Surgery, and Journal of Plastic, Reconstructive, and Aesthetic Surgery within a 1-year period encompassing 2013. All clinical research articles were analyzed. Studies were evaluated blindly for methodology quality based on a validated scoring system. An ordinal logistic regression model was used to examine the association between methodology score and COI.
A total of 1474 articles were reviewed, of which 483 met our inclusion criteria. These articles underwent methodological quality scoring. Conflicts of interest were reported in 28 (5.8%) of these articles. After adjusting for article characteristics in the ordinal logistic regression analysis, there was no significant association between articles with COI and higher methodological scores (P = 0.7636).
Plastic surgery studies that disclose COI are not associated with higher methodological quality when compared with studies that do not disclose COI. These findings suggest that although the presence of COI is associated with positive findings, the association is not shown to be driven by higher-quality studies.