Disclosure at #SAGES2018: An analysis of physician–industry relationships of invited speakers at the 2018 SAGES national meeting

  • Alex W. Lois
  • Anne P. Ehlers
  • Jennifer Minneman
  • Jin Sol Oh
  • Saurabh Khandelwal
  • Andrew S. WrightEmail author
2019 SAGES Oral



Financial conflicts of interest (COI) have been shown to affect the interpretation of scientific findings. Publications with unreported COI tend to be more favorable to industry. Since 2014 industry payments to United States (US) physicians are publicly reported in the Open Payments Database (OPD). Several studies show high levels of unreported COI in medical literature; however, there is no research examining COI reporting at surgical conferences. We hypothesized that compliance with the COI disclosure requirement would be high at the 2018 SAGES meeting. However, we expected to find significant discrepancy between speaker-reported and OPD-reported COI. A secondary aim was to characterize the amount, source, and variation in industry payments to invited speakers.


We reviewed all available presentations from SAGES 2018 as recorded and publicly available on YouTube™ for the presence of COI disclosure and the disclosed industry relationships. For US physicians we searched the OPD and recorded all industry payments > $500. We compared the self-disclosed COI for each speaker with OPD records. Presentation topics were divided into ten groups to determine which topics received the most funding.


Of the 526 invited presentations, 479 (91%) videos were available. Disclosures were reported by 414 presenters (86.4%). There were 420 unique presenters of which 315 were listed in the OPD. Speaker-reported disclosures were fully concordant with the OPD in 38.3% (121/315) of cases with 39% (123/315) under-reporting disclosures. Of presenters listed in OPD, the median payment was $992 ($0–$374,502) with a total of $6,389,097 paid in 2017. SAGES speakers failed to disclose $2,049,535 worth of industry payments with an average undisclosed payment of $16,662.88 (± $40,733.19). The largest financial contributor was Intuitive Surgical with $1,981,169 paid. Among topics, robotics and hernia received the most funding with $2,593,925 (40.6%) and $2,591,671 (40.5%) paid, respectively.


Overall compliance with SAGES disclosure rules is high. There remains a discrepancy between speaker- and industry-reported disclosures, including a number of undisclosed payments, some of which are substantial. Adjustments to disclosure rules to include the relative amount of compensation may be warranted.


Conflicts of interest COI Open payments database OPD 



No relevant funding to disclose.

Compliance with ethical standards


Dr. Wright receives educational funding from Cook Medical as well as educational funding and speaker fees from Covidien/Medtronic.Drs. Lois, Ehlers, Oh, Minneman, and Khandelwal have no conflicts of interest or financial ties to disclose.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Division of General Surgery, Department of SurgeryUniversity of WashingtonSeattleUSA

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