Effect of the public disclosure of industry payments information on patients: results from a population-based natural experiment

BMJ Open. 2019 Mar 1;9(2):e024020. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2018-024020.


Objective: To determine the effect of the public disclosure of industry payments to physicians on patients' awareness of industry payments and knowledge about whether their physicians had accepted industry payments.

Design: Interrupted time series with comparison group (difference-in-difference analyses of longitudinal survey).

Setting: Nationally representative US population-based surveys. Surveys were conducted in September 2014, shortly prior to the public release of Open Payments information, and again in September 2016.

Participants: Adults aged 18 and older (n=2180).

Main outcome measures: Awareness of industry payments as an issue; awareness that industry payments information was publicly available; knowledge of whether own physician had received industry payments.

Results: Public disclosure of industry payments information through Open Payments did not significantly increase the proportion of respondents who knew whether their physician had received industry payments (p=0.918). It also did not change the proportion of respondents who became aware of the issue of industry payments (p=0.470) but did increase the proportion who knew that payments information was publicly available (9.6% points, p=0.011).

Conclusions: Two years after the public disclosure of industry payments information, Open Payments does not appear to have achieved its goal of increasing patient knowledge of whether their physicians have received money from pharmaceutical and medical device firms. Additional efforts will be required to improve the use and effectiveness of Open Payments for consumers.

Keywords: conflicts of interest; industry payments; open payments; patient awareness; physician industry relationships; public disclosure; transparency.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Awareness
  • Conflict of Interest / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Disclosure* / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Drug Industry* / ethics
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interrupted Time Series Analysis
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Patients / psychology*
  • Patients / statistics & numerical data
  • Physicians* / ethics
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United States
  • Young Adult