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Fam Med. 2016 Jan;48(1):44-8.

Residency Curricula on Physician-Pharmaceutical Industry Interaction: A CERA Study.

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Department of Family Medicine, University of Washington.



Physician interaction with pharmaceutical representatives results in less evidence-based prescribing and increased costs. Many organizations have called for strong conflict of interest policies in academic institutions. Implementing policy without educational interventions may not adequately address the influence of industry on physician prescribing patterns. The objective of this study is to assess the implementation and content of family medicine residency curricula on the physician-pharmaceutical industry relationship.


We surveyed US family medicine program directors using the Council of Academic Family Medicine Educational Research Alliance (CERA) platform. The presence of a formal curriculum on the physician-industry interaction and specific curricular elements (ethics of interaction, understanding detailing sessions and advertisements, use of unbiased pharmaceutical information) were the outcome measures of interest.


Fifty-two percent (212 of 406) of program directors responded. Forty percent (95% confidence interval [CI]: 33%--46%) reported having a formal curriculum on physician-pharmaceutical industry interactions. The presence of a formal curriculum was more likely in residencies permitting interaction with industry (52% [48/92] versus 30% [36/120]) or with a university affiliation (43% [75/173] versus 19% [7/36]). The use of unbiased sources of information relating to pharmaceutical products and the ethics of the physician-pharmaceutical industry relationship were the most common curricular elements (59% and 55%, respectively).


This study shows that less than half of US family medicine programs have a curriculum addressing physician-industry interactions. Further research on the efficacy of and barriers to curriculum creation and implementation is warranted.

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