And journal disclosure policy didn't seem to matter. Articles in those with more stringent policies were no more likely than those with more lax policies to reveal an author's relationship with industry.
Nor were there differences in disclosure based on the author's status as first, middle, or senior author.
The researchers concluded that current journal disclosure policies "do not yield complete or consistent information regarding industry payments.
This may be because journals don't solicit or don't publish complete financial disclosures. Or, authors may believe that payments from device makers are not relevant to research reports, they added.
To mitigate the situation, journals should collect comprehensive information about authors' commercial relationships, Rothman said. They should also figure out ways to publish the information contained in the upcoming 2013 national database of disclosures.
"We're urging the leadership of medical institutions and journals to start now," he said. "Start using the information that's publicly available."