Gender Differences in Industry Payments Among Cardiologists

BACKGROUND:

There is a wage gap among men and women practicing cardiology. Differences in industry funding can be both a consequence of and a contributor to gender differences in salaries. We sought to determine whether gender differences exist in the distribution, types, and amounts of industry payments among men and women in cardiology.

METHODS:

In this cross-sectional analysis, we used the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Open Payment program database to obtain 2016 industry payment data for US cardiologists. We also used UK Disclosure data to obtain 2016 industry payments to UK cardiologists. Outcomes included the proportions of male and female cardiologists receiving industry funding and the mean industry payment amounts received by male and female cardiologists. Where possible, we also assessed 2014 and 2015 data in both locations.

RESULTS:

Of the 22,848 practicing Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services US cardiologists in 2016, 20,037 (88%) were men and 2,811 (12%) were women. Proportionally more men than women received industry payments in 2016 (78.0% vs 68.5%, respectively; P < .001). Men received higher overall mean industry payments than women ($6,193.25 vs. $2,501.55, P < .001). Results were similar in 2014 and 2015. Among UK cardiologists, more men (24.4%) than women (13.5%) received industry payments in 2016 (P < .001). However, although the difference in overall industry payments was numerically larger among men compared to women, this did not achieve statistical significance (£2,348.31 vs £1,501.37, respectively, P = .35).

CONCLUSIONS:

Industry payments to cardiologists are common, and there are gender differences in these payments on both sides of the Atlantic.