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Healthy Skepticism Library item: 33

Warning: This library includes all items relevant to health product marketing that we are aware of regardless of quality. Often we do not agree with all or part of the contents.


Publication type: Journal Article

Wilkes MS, Hoffman JR.
An innovative approach to educating medical students about pharmaceutical promotion.
Acad Med 2001 Dec; 76:(12):1271-1277


Prescription drugs comprise approximately 9% of the total cost of health care in the United States. The manner in which doctors obtain information about new and changing pharmaceuticals obviously has the potential to have a profound impact on health care costs, pharmaceutical companies’ profits, and the quality of health care. Patterns learned in medical school undoubtedly influence physicians’ future behaviors. The authors describe an educational program, in which university pharmacists portrayed pharmaceutical company representatives to model a promotional presentation, that they designed to generate critical thinking among third-year medical students regarding the influence of pharmaceutical representatives on the prescribing practices of physicians. The authors also provide information suggesting that the program increased the uncertainty many students felt about the accuracy and ethics of standard drug “detailing.” Compared to questionnaire responses that students provided before the exercise, the attitudes they expressed in course assessments completed 12 weeks after the session revealed much more uncertainty about the ethics and value of interactions with drug reps, and the number who stated that they wanted to interact with drug reps
during their residency fell from 86% to 61%. Although its long-term impact is unknown, this is potentially a valuable approach for inoculating medical students against some of the worst potential consequences of biased drug detailing presentations.

*educational intervention *cohort study United States attitude toward promotion sales representatives quality of information students ATTITUDES REGARDING PROMOTION: HEALTH PROFESSION STUDENTS EDUCATING ABOUT PROMOTION: HEALTH PROFESSION STUDENTS PROMOTION AS A SOURCE OF INFORMATION: HEALTH PROFESSION STUDENTS


Methodologic note: The long term effects of this intervention are not known. In the absence of a control group means that other factors may also have influenced the change in attitudes. There is a possibility of a social acceptability bias in the answers to the questionnaire after the intervention.
ProCite field5: Educational intervention/cohort study


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