Practicing and resident physicians' views on pharmaceutical companies

Rodolfo E. Aldir, David Jarjoura, Melinda Phinney, Fred Poordad, Robert Gutierrez, Thomas Marnejon, Elaine Greifenstein, Joan Lappin, Frederick C. Whittier

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


We studied the perception of residents and practicing physicians regarding interaction with pharmaceutical companies and their representatives. We focused on the concept that the pharmaceutical industry is considered to have an undue influence on physician prescribing habits and assessed the effect of pharmaceutical education efforts on physician education. The study consisted of an anonymous 22-item questionnaire sent to 511 Northeastern Ohio primary care practicing physicians and 265 primary care residents. We obtained a 67% response rate. Only 13% of the practicing physicians and 8% of the residents believed that the pharmaceutical industry had a negative influence on conferences. Eighty-nine percent of the physicians believed that they had sufficient training to interpret information from the pharmaceutical companies. Residents believed that they needed more training for the private detailing of representatives (39% had adequate training) versus 61% of the practicing physicians (p <.0001). Both physician groups felt that, as the value of a gift incneased, the less appropriate it was. Factors that were not perceived as having influence on prescribing included lunches, dinners, and gifts. Provision of free samples did affect the choice of writing a prescription. We analyzed five constructs of a history of receipt of gifts, attitudes toward gifts, attitudes toward information, influence on prescription, and assessment of prior training. We found the correlations among those constructs to be low. This implies that physicians' attitudes and behaviors cannot be treated globally. In the call for changes in the practices of the pharmaceutical companies, an assumption is made that such changes will diminish unwarranted influence on physicians. Our results indicated that pharmaceutical gifts and influence on conferences have no apparent effect on prescribing habits. They also indicated that various attitudes and behaviors of physicians toward pharmaceutical companies are independent constructs, such that changing one has little, if any, influence on another. Physicians seem more discerning than the calls for change suggest.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)25-32
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Continuing Education in the Health Professions
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1996
Externally publishedYes


  • Attitude toward gifts
  • Pharmaceutical education
  • Physician education
  • Prescribing habits
  • Receipt of gifts
  • Undue influence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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