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M. E. Collins, M. Saidel; Disclosure of Financial Support in the Ophthalmology Literature - An Analysis of Clinical Trials Published in 2008. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2009;50(13):5337.
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The primary objective was to determine how often authors made a disclosure statement regarding financial support for their study. A secondary objective was to determine how often authors made a statement regarding the role of the study sponsor in the design, conduct or analysis of the study.
We reviewed clinical trials published in three major ophthalmology journals during 2008. For each published report, we recorded whether the authors made a disclosure statement regarding financial support for their study. Furthermore, we analyzed how often authors clarified if the funding source was involved in the design, conduct or analysis of the study.
279 articles were included in our data analysis. These included case reports, prospective and retrospective clinical trials and meta-analyses. 168/279 articles (60.2%) made a statement regarding financial support for their project. Of note, we previously analyzed the rate of financial disclosure statements by authors in one major ophthalmology journal in 2007 and found the disclosure rate to be similar (63.7%) to what was seen in this study. Of 168 articles that made a statement regarding financial support, only 1 author stated that he had not received any financial support to conduct his study. 167/168 articles (99.4%) received financial support and disclosed the name of the study sponsor(s).Only 7/168 articles (4.1%) included a statement about the role of the study sponsor in the design, conduct or analysis of the study.
Transparency is paramount in interpreting published data in the medical literature. Over the past few years, the medical community has made increasing efforts to encourage authors to make disclosure statements regarding financial support and conflict of interest. In this study, we focused on authors’ statements regarding financial support for their study. Despite similar manuscript submission guidelines in all of the leading ophthalmology journals, only 60% of the studies included in our analysis disclosed the source of financial support. Of greater concern, however, is the fact that only 4.1% of authors specified whether the study sponsor had any role in the study design, conduct or analysis. The ophthalmology community needs to make a greater effort to mandate disclosure of financial support in the published literature. Furthermore, disclosure statements should be meaningful to the reader in their interpretation of study results. One possible solution is to require that all published articles include a statement about whether or not the study sponsor had any role in study design, conducting the clinical trial or analyzing the study data.
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