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Funding Source, Not Quality, Influences Study Publication

Flu vaccine studies with industry funding more likely published in higher-impact journals

FRIDAY, Feb. 13 (HealthDay News) -- Influenza vaccine study publication in prestigious journals is more likely to occur when a study receives industry funding but does not correlate to the study's quality or size, according to research published online Feb. 12 in BMJ.

Thomas Jefferson, M.D., of the Cochrane Vaccines Field in the Azienda Sanitaria Locale in Alessandria, Italy, and colleagues performed a systematic review of 259 studies containing 274 datasets comparing the effects of influenza vaccine with either placebo or no intervention.

Studies that were of higher methodological quality were over 16 times more likely to show concordance between the data presented and the study conclusions, the authors report. However, the conclusions of these studies were less likely to be in favor of the vaccine effectiveness. Government-funded studies were nearly half as likely to contain conclusions that favored the vaccine. The mean journal impact factor and higher citation index were both positively associated with complete or partial industry funding, the report indicates. In addition, study size had no association with concordance, funding, content of take-home message or quality, Jefferson's team reports.

"Studies partly or completely sponsored by industry, however, were published in more prestigious journals and are probably cited more, although their methodological quality and size were similar. Some of these findings might help to explain the continuation of a near global policy, despite growing doubts as to its scientific basis," the authors write.

One of the study authors reports financial relationships with the pharmaceutical industry.

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