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JMIR Dermatology


Background: Previous studies have highlighted the potential influence that industry relationships may have on the outcomes of medical research.

Objective: We aimed to determine the prevalence of author conflicts of interest (COIs) in systematic reviews focusing on melanoma interventions, as well as to determine whether the presence of these COIs were associated with an increased likelihood of reporting favorable results and conclusions.

Methods: This cross-sectional study included systematic reviews with or without meta-analyses focusing on interventions for melanoma. We searched MEDLINE and Embase for eligible systematic reviews published between September 1, 2016, and June 2, 2020. COI disclosures were cross-referenced with information from the CMS (Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services) Open Payments database, Dollars for Profs, Google Patents, the United States Patent and Trademark Office, and previously published COI disclosure statements. Results were quantified using descriptive statistics, and relationships were evaluated by Fisher exact tests.

Results: Of the 23 systematic reviews included in our sample, 12 (52%) had at least one author with a COI. Of these 12 reviews, 7 (58%) reported narrative results favoring the treatment group and 9 (75%) reported conclusions favoring the treatment group. Of the 11 systematic reviews without a conflicted author, 4 (36%) reported results favoring the treatment group and 5 (45%) reported conclusions favoring the treatment group. We found no significant association between the presence of author COIs and the favorability of results (P=.53) or conclusions (P=.15).

Conclusions: Author COIs did not appear to influence the outcomes of systematic reviews regarding melanoma interventions. Clinicians and other readers of dermatology literature should be cognizant of the influence that industry may have on the nature of reported outcomes, including those from systematic reviews and meta-analyses.



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