The NIH was the single largest financial contributor to the systematic reviews that led to the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommendations, according to data recently published in JAMA.
“At the NIH Office of Disease Prevention, we regularly seek innovative ways to measure the impact of NIH funding in prevention research,” Jennifer Villani, MD, PhD, of the NIH Office of Disease Prevention, told Healio Family Medicine. “This study was undertaken to measure the NIH contribution to clinical preventive service guidelines.”
Researchers looked at 1,650 systematic reviews used to garner 25 USPSTF recommendations from January 2014 through February 2016.
They found NIH was the single largest contributor (25%), followed by the United Kingdom’s Medical Research Council (3%), to these reviews. In addition, the CDC, Australia’s National Health and Medical Research Council, the U.K.’s National Health Service Research and Development Programme and the Netherlands Organisation for Health Research and Development each made up 2% of the reviews’ funding sources. They also noted that 21% of the reviews did not have any funding sources listed.
Villani and colleagues also wrote that the sources of funding were different, depending on topic. As an example, they cited that the recommendation to screen for chlamydia and gonorrhea had the highest proportion of industry funding (75%), while behavioral counseling for STDs had the highest proportion of government funding (91%).
The USPSTF declares itself to be an independent panel, and this analysis was intended to identify potential biases that could arise as a result of funding sources. The NIH emerging as the primary funder for the research underpinning USPSTF recommendations was not a cause for alarm among the researchers, Villani said.
[“I’m] not [concerned] at all,” she said in the interview. “The USPSTF relies on the highest quality scientific evidence available, regardless of where the studies were conducted or who provided the funding.”
Villani added that though “it is important for the public to know if recommendations from professional societies are based on evidence that may have a funding source bias,” she did not have a list of recommendations that should undergo review. – by Janel Miller
The authors report no relevant financial disclosures.