Conflicts of Interest in Studies Related to Mesh Use in Ventral Hernia Repair and Abdominal Wall Reconstruction.
To examine the accuracy of the reporting of conflicts of interest (COI) among studies related to mesh use in ventral hernia repair and abdominal wall reconstruction.Accurate declaration of COI is integral to ensuring transparency of study results. Multiple studies have demonstrated undeclared COI are prevalent in surgical literature.Studies with at least one American author accepted between 2014-2018 in 12 major, peer-reviewed general surgery and plastic surgery journals were included. Declared COI were compared with payments listed in the “Open Payments” database (maintained by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services [CMS]) during the year of acceptance and one year prior. Studies and authors were considered to have a COI if they received payments from any of 8 major mesh companies totaling > $100.00 from each company. Risk factors for undeclared COI were determined at the study and author levels.126 studies (553 authors) were included. 102 studies (81.0%) had one or more authors who received payments from industry and inaccurately declared their COI. 248 authors (44.8%) did not declare their COI accurately. On multivariate analysis, last authors were found to be at highest risk for undeclared payments (OR 3.59, 95%CI 2.02-6.20), while middle authors were at significantly higher risk for undeclared payments than first authors (OR 1.64, 95%CI 1.04-2.56).The majority of studies investigating the use of mesh in ventral hernia repairs and abdominal wall reconstructions did not accurately declare COI. Last authors are at highest risk of undisclosed payments. Current policies on disclosing COI seem to be insufficient to ensure transparency of publications.