Association Between Industry Sponsorship and Author Conflicts of Interest With Outcomes of Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses of Interventions for Opioid Use Disorder

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Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment


Introduction: Author conflicts of interest (COI) and industry sponsorship may lead to biased research results and conclusions. Considering the direct influence that systematic reviews have on patient care, including the management of patients being treated for opioid use disorders (OUD), these studies should be free of industry bias. Thus, we sought to determine whether a relationship exists between COI and the favorability of systematic review outcomes using a sample of systematic reviews regarding OUD interventions.

Methods: We searched MEDLINE and Embase for systematic reviews and meta-analysis related to OUD treatment. The study team performed all data extraction in a masked duplicate fashion. We searched for undisclosed COI for each systematic review author in 3 databases--the CMS Open Payments database, Dollars for Profs, and the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). The research team quantified results using descriptive statistics. We evaluated associations between review characteristics using Fisher's exact tests, when possible.

Results: This article includes seventeen systematic reviews and meta-analyses with 81 authors. We found that 25 authors (30.9%) had some form of COI, and 22 (of 25, 88.0%) authors had an undisclosed COI. However, no significant association existed between COI and favorability of results and conclusions. Notably, two systematic reviews (of 17; 11.76%) were industry-sponsored. Similarly, we found no association between the study sponsor source and the favorability of systematic review results and conclusions.

Conclusions: Our results suggest the favorability of systematic review results and conclusions are not influenced by author COI or industry sponsorship. However, nearly one-fourth of authors had an undisclosed COI, further emphasizing the need for standardization and adherence to COI disclosure policies within addiction medicine literature.



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Conflicts of interests, Funding bias, Industry sponsorship, Opioid use disorder, Systematic reviews