A Check-Up on Gender Disparities in the Field of Orthopedic Surgery

A new study led by researchers at Tufts University, Harvard University and the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City, finds that women are only 6.5 percent of the members of the American Association of Orthopaedic Surgeons. The good news is that slowly the situation is beginning to improve. Some 13 percent of the residents in the field are women. But this new study finds that very large gender gaps persist in the financial arrangments companies make with orthopedic surgeons.

Financial relationships that U.S. physicians have with medical device and pharmaceutical companies are publicly reported in the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Open Payments database. Researchers in this new study used information from the database to analyze payments made to orthopedic surgeons from industry groups for royalties, licensing, or consulting fees from 2016 to 2017.

The study found that total industry payments amounted to more than $700 million. Approximately 11 percent of orthopedic surgeons received 88 percent of payments during this time period. Among these physicians, 98 percent were men. The study found that the average male orthopedic surgeon received more than five times the amount paid to any woman.

The authors of the study conclude that “as we promote equal and fair opportunities within the workplace for all orthopedic surgeons, we must ensure that resources are equally and fairly distributed. This responsibility should be shared among surgeons, industry partners, hospital administrators, and government officials. Only with concerted and directed efforts will we ensure that financial incentives and research funding are allocated based on merit rather than gender or race.”

The full study, “Gender Disparities in Financial Relationships Between Industry and Orthopaedic Surgeons,” was published in the Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery.” It may be accessed here.

Filed Under: Research/Study


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