A Content Analysis of Self-Reported Financial Relationships in Biomedical Research

S. Scott Graham, Nandini Sharma, Martha S. Karnes, Zoltan P. Majdik, Joshua B. Barbour, Justin F. Rousseau

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Introduction: Financial conflicts of interest (fCOI) present well documented risks to the integrity of biomedical research. However, few studies differentiate among fCOI types in their analyses, and those that do tend to use preexisting taxonomies for fCOI identification. Research on fCOI would benefit from an empirically-derived taxonomy of self-reported fCOI and data on fCOI type and payor prevalence. Methods: We conducted a content analysis of 6,165 individual self-reported relationships from COI statements distributed across 378 articles indexed with PubMed. Two coders used an iterative coding process to identify and classify individual fCOI types and payors. Inter-rater reliability was κ = 0.935 for fCOI type and κ = 0.884 for payor identification. Results: Our analysis identified 21 fCOI types, 9 of which occurred at prevalences greater than 1%. These included research funding (24.8%), speaking fees (20.8%), consulting fees (18.8%), advisory relationships (11%), industry employment (7.6%), unspecified fees (4.8%), travel fees (3.2%), stock holdings (3.1%), and patent ownership (1%). Reported fCOI were held with 1,077 unique payors, 22 of which were present in more than 1% of financial relationships. The ten most common payors included Pfizer (4%), Novartis (3.9%), MSD (3.8%), Bristol Myers Squibb (3.2%), AstraZeneca (3.1%), GSK (3%), Boehringer Ingelheim (2.9%), Roche (2.8%), Eli LIlly (2.5%), and AbbVie (2.4%). Conclusions: These results provide novel multi-domain prevalence data on self-reported fCOI and payors in biomedical research. As such, they have the potential to catalyze future research that can assess the differential effects of various types of fCOI. Specifically, the data suggest that comparative analyses of the effects of different fCOI types are needed and that special attention should be paid to the diversity of payor types for research relationships.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)91-98
Number of pages8
JournalAJOB Empirical Bioethics
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2023
Externally publishedYes


  • Conflict of interest
  • drug industry
  • ethics
  • health policy
  • research

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Philosophy
  • Health Policy


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