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Effect of the public disclosure of industry payments information on patients: results from a population-based natural experiment
  1. Genevieve P Kanter1,2,
  2. Daniel Carpenter3,
  3. Lisa Lehmann4,
  4. Michelle M Mello5,6
  1. 1 Division of General Internal Medicine, Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA
  2. 2 Department of Medical Ethics and Health Policy, Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA
  3. 3 Department of Government, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA
  4. 4 National Center for Ethics in Health Care, Veterans Health Administration, Washington, District of Columbia, USA
  5. 5 Stanford Law School, Stanford University, Stanford, California, USA
  6. 6 Department of Health Research and Policy, School of Medicine, Stanford University, Stanford, California, USA
  1. Correspondence to Dr Genevieve P Kanter; gpkanter{at}


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.

  • physician industry relationships
  • open payments
  • public disclosure
  • transparency
  • industry payments
  • conflicts of interest
  • patient awareness

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  • Contributors Study concept and design: GPK, MMM. Acquisition, analysis or interpretation of data: GPK, MMM, DC, LL. Drafting of the manuscript: GPK. Critical revision of the manuscript for important intellectual content: GPK, MMM, DC, LL. Statistical analysis: GPK. Administrative, technical or material support: GPK, MMM, DC, LL. Study supervision: GPK. GPK had full access to the data and takes full responsibility for the integrity of the data and the accuracy of the data analysis. All authors have read, revised and approved the final version of the paper.

  • Funding This research was funded by the Greenwall Foundation.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data sharing statement No additional data are available.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.