Proliferation of gynaecological scientific societies and their financial transparency: An Italian survey

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Objectives: To determine the number of Italian obstetrical and gynaecological societies, and to ascertain their financial transparency. Design: Internet-based national survey and website content analysis. Participants: Currently active, not privately owned, non-religious, apolitical, obstetrical and gynaecological associations. Methods: From October 2014 to June 2015, scientific societies were identified using combinations of search terms, and examining the website of the two main Italian obstetrical and gynaecological organisations. Individual societies' websites were scrutinised by two independent investigators. Primary and secondary outcome measures: Number of Italian obstetrical and gynaecological associations and its variation over time; 12 information categories defining the general characteristics of the societies and their websites, and the financial transparency of the associations. Results: The initial web search yielded 56 professional obstetrical and gynaecological associations but nine were excluded for various reasons. Of the remaining 47 professional associations, 17 covered both obstetrics and gynaecology, four were specialised in obstetrics, 26 in gynaecology and 46 provided continuing medical education (CME) activities. The number of societies has quadrupled in the last 35 years, increasing at a mean rate of one additional society per year. The headquarters of the associations were located in the offices of a professional congress organiser in 15 instances, and advertisements or links to industry products were present in 12 societies' websites. Bylaws were accessible in 32 websites. No information was publicly available regarding competing interests, financial statements and quantitative external funding. Conclusions: The number of obstetrical and gynaecological societies is remarkably high in Italy, particularly in the gynaecological area. Despite CME activity provision, transparency of societies regarding financial issues and competing interests was almost non-existent. Policies addressing the interactions between medical associations and industry are available and should be implemented.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere008370
JournalBMJ Open
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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