Background: Disclosure of authors' financial interests has been proposed as a strategy for protecting the integrity of the biomedical literature. We examined whether authors' financial interests were disclosed consistently in articles on coronary stents published in 2006.
Methodology/principal findings: We searched PubMed for English-language articles published in 2006 that provided evidence or guidance regarding the use of coronary artery stents. We recorded article characteristics, including information about authors' financial disclosures. The main outcome measures were the prevalence, nature, and consistency of financial disclosures. There were 746 articles, 2985 authors, and 135 journals in the database. Eighty-three percent of the articles did not contain disclosure statements for any author (including declarations of no interests). Only 6% of authors had an article with a disclosure statement. In comparisons between articles by the same author, the types of disagreement were as follows: no disclosure statements vs declarations of no interests (64%); specific disclosures vs no disclosure statements (34%); and specific disclosures vs declarations of no interests (2%). Among the 75 authors who disclosed at least 1 relationship with an organization, there were 2 cases (3%) in which the organization was disclosed in every article the author wrote.
Conclusions/significance: In the rare instances when financial interests were disclosed, they were not disclosed consistently, suggesting that there are problems with transparency in an area of the literature that has important implications for patient care. Our findings suggest that the inconsistencies we observed are due to both the policies of journals and the behavior of some authors.