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Int J Health Serv. 2009;39(2):405-14.

Patients' awareness of and attitudes toward gifts from pharmaceutical companies to physicians.

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  • 1Michigan State University, Kalamazoo Center for Medical Studies, Kalamazoo, MI 49008-1202, USA.


The purpose of this study was to assess patients' awareness of and attitudes toward physicians' receiving gifts from the pharmaceutical industry. The Alger County Community Health Study was a self-report survey targeting rural Alger County, Michigan. The survey (completion rate 10.1%) addressed issues on health, demographics, and patients' awareness of and attitudes toward gifts to physicians. Rates of awareness of gifts were: drug samples, 94 percent; ballpoint pens, 76.2 percent; medical books, 38 percent; conference/travel expenses, 34 percent; dinner out, 36.6 percent; spouse meal at dinner out, 23 percent; golf tournament fees, 19.0 percent. Rates of "approval" of physicians' accepting gifts were: drug samples, 69 percent; ballpoint pens, 54.2 percent; medical books, 49 percent; conference/travel expenses, 14 percent; dinner out, 12.1 percent; spouse meal at dinner out, 7 percent; golf tournament fees, 3.7 percent. Patients' approval of gifts seems to be related to the perceived value of the gift to patients as well as its monetary value. The patient population in the current study seems to be less approving of gifts to physicians than patients surveyed in the 1990s. Patients' opinions should be considered when establishing ethical guidelines and policies regulating physician-industry interaction.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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