04.01 Research Output and Clinical Activity: A Study of Academic Surgical Institutions

T. Efejuku2, J. Song1, A. Palackic1, S. E. Wolf1  1University Of Texas Medical Branch, Department Of Surgery, Galveston, TX, USA 2University Of Texas Medical Branch, School Of Medicine, Galveston, TX, USA

Introduction: The number of research publications produced is strongly correlated to academic promotion and tenure. That said, clinician-scientists report growing difficulty in balancing clinical duties with teaching, professional, and research obligations. The continued struggle presents the question of whether research productivity is quantitatively related to clinical activity. Our study aims to identify correlations, if any, of research publications and clinical performance benchmarks in academic surgical departments.

Methods: An electronic search was performed using SCOPUS to identify 14 Departments of Surgery in Texas academic institutions from 1970 to 2020. Texas was divided into three regions (Gulf Coast, West Texas, and Central/Northeast Texas) by geographic location and city population to equalize distribution. The number of published articles in 2019 was correlated to clinical activity for the same year obtained from the American Hospital Directory. The database lists statistics from hospitals in Texas in various categories including staffed hospital beds, total discharges, patient days, gross revenue, number of Medicare inpatients, average length of stay, average charges, and Medicare CMI. Pearson correlation analysis was utilized to compare number of publications to these clinical performance benchmarks.

Results: Data showed a steady increase in the total number of published articles from the 14 Texas institutions from 1970-2020. When stratified by the three regions for 2019, we found a strong negative correlation (r = -0.91) with the number of publications to sum of the average charges for clinical care. We also found a strong positive correlation (r = 0.87) between the total number of surgical publications in 2019 and the sum of the average length of stay. All other variables had weak or no correlation.

Conclusion: The strong negative correlation for number of publications and average charges per institution stands as the best indication that research productivity positively effects clinical activity, even among academic institutions. We also found that research productivity is correlated with increased average length of hospital stay as another clinical impact of increasing research effort. While surprising, such findings should be considered in strategic management of academic surgical institutions.