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Y. Wang, R. A. Adelman; Interactions Between Pharmaceutical Industries and Ophthalmology Trainees. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2007;48(13):2415.
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There has been increasing concern about the influence of pharmaceutical promotions on physicians' prescribing behavior. Previous studies in other specialties have suggested that doctors in training are vulnerable to such influence although they may be unaware of it. The purpose of the current study is to look at the behavior and attitudes toward pharmaceutical promotions among ophthalmology trainees.
Surveys about behavior and attitudes toward interactions with pharmaceutical representatives (Pharm Reps) were distributed to 40 ophthalmology residency programs in the United States and the program coordinators were asked to forward the survey to their residents and fellows.
35 responses were received. A majority (94%) of respondents report seeing Pharm Reps visiting their program at least once every one to two months. All respondents (100%) have accepted gifts from Pharm Reps. The most common gifts are pens, books, lunches and dinners. While only 31% of trainees have changed prescribing behavior based on information provided by Pharm Reps, the majority (77%) has done so based on availability of medicine samples. Interestingly, trainees tend to believe that they are more immune to the influence from pharmaceutical promotions than their peers. When asked to rate the agreement to the statements with 5 meaning strongly agree and 1 meaning strongly disagree, the average agreement score for "Pharmaceutical representatives influence my prescribing" is only 2.69, compared to 3.40 for "pharmaceutical representatives influence other physician's prescribing". The difference in the score is statistically significant (p=4.98E-07). Overall, most respondents (86%) believe the interactions with pharmaceutical industry have been "just right". Although almost half of trainees (49%) admit there are guidelines or policies in their program regarding interactions with pharmaceutical industries, only 29% have received training in this area. There are also discrepancies among respondents from the same program, with some stating there is such a policy while others answered no, indicating the lack of awareness of such policies even when they do exist.
There have been extensive interactions between pharmaceutical industries and ophthalmology trainees. While most trainees believe they are not easily influenced by pharmaceutical promotions, the majority of them have changed behavior based on the promotion. There is currently a lack of education in this area. Ophthalmology training programs should teach trainees regarding industry marketing techniques, their potential influences, as well as how to critically evaluate the information.
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