Conflicts of Interest Among Authors of Systematic Reviews Regarding the Management of Chronic Non-Cancer Pain with Opioids Analgesics

Document Type


Publication Title

Pain Medicine


Objective: We sought to determine whether author conflict of interest (disclosed or undisclosed) or industry sponsorship influenced the favorability of reporting of systematic reviews and meta-analyses investigating the use of opioid analgesics for the management of chronic non-cancer pain.

Methods: Our search included the MEDLINE (Ovid) and Embase (Ovid) databases. Study sponsorship was determined using the funding statement provided in each systematic review. Author COI information was extracted from the COI disclosure statement. This information was cross-referenced with information available on the CMS Open Payments Database, Dollars for Profs, Google Patents, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), and previously published COI disclosures.

Results: Eight systematic reviews authored by 83 authors were included. Of these authors, 19 (23.0%) were found to have a COI, of which the majority (17/19; 89.5%) had at least one undisclosed COI. Despite nearly one-quarter of authors having a COI, we found no association between the presence of a COI and the favorability of results (P = 0.64) or conclusions (P = 0.07).

Conclusions: COI are common and frequently undisclosed among systematic review authors investigating opioid analgesics for the management of chronic non-cancer pain. Despite a high prevalence of COI, we did not find that these author-industry relationships had a significant influence on the favorability of results and conclusions; however, our findings should be considered a lower bound estimate of the true influence author COI have on outcomes of pain medicine systematic reviews secondary to the low sample size included in the present study.



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Conflicts of Interest, Industry Bias, Industry Sponsorship, Systematic Review