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Patient awareness and concern regarding pharmaceutical manufacturer interactions with doctors

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Abstract Background: 

The objective of the study was to determine the general public’s level of awareness of and degree of concern about the interactions between pharmaceutical manufacturers and doctors in Melbourne. This Internet was survey administered using Survey Monkey. Methods: 

The participants in the study were employees of The Age Newspaper in Melbourne (n = 1524). Participants’ self-reported levels of awareness and concern regarding pharmaceutical representatives’ interactions with doctors and the resulting effect on the quality of care they receive were observed. Results: 

One hundred and thirty-four participants completed the questionnaire between 18 January and 8 February 2007. This was a response rate of 8.8%, and 40% reported a ‘high level’ of awareness of pharmaceutical marketing, whereas 59% reported believing that marketing influenced the prescribing behaviour of their doctors. Participants who reported that information provided by the pharmaceutical industry is inaccurate were significantly more likely to prefer a doctor who did not engage with pharmaceutical marketing (H(2) = 0.19, P < 0.05). There was a significant difference in perceived trustworthiness between academic sources of information and marketing based sources of information (T = 0.000, P < 0.05). The level of perceived trustworthiness of pharmaceutical marketing was significantly related to whether people wanted to be kept informed about pharmaceutical marketing activities (H(2) = 0.004, P < 0.05). Forty-eight per cent of respondents wanted to be informed about pharmaceutical marketing; 46.2% of these people would like this to be through disclosure in the form of an accredited identification system. If given a choice, 38.8% of respondents would choose a doctor who did not see pharmaceutical representatives over one that did. Conclusion: 

A significant proportion of the sample surveyed was aware of pharmaceutical marketing, believed that it influenced prescribing practices and it was less trustworthy than academic sources of information, would like to be kept informed about industry interactions with their doctor and would prefer to see a doctor who did not receive visits from pharmaceutical marketing representatives.
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Keywords: bioethical issue; doctor; pharmaceuticals; prescribing

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Interdisciplinary Center for Bioethics, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut, USA

Publication date: 01 March 2009

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