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BMC Med Educ. 2018 Dec 4;18(1):286. doi: 10.1186/s12909-018-1394-9.

Medical students' attitudes toward interactions with the pharmaceutical industry: a national survey in Japan.

Author information

1
Department of Primary Care and Medical Education, Graduate School of Comprehensive Human Sciences, University of Tsukuba, 1-1-1 Tennodai, Tsukuba, Ibaraki, 305-8575, Japan. ssaito-tkb@umin.ac.jp.
2
Department of Primary Care and Medical Education, Faculty of Medicine, University of Tsukuba, 1-1-1 Tennodai, Tsukuba, Ibaraki, 305-8575, Japan.
3
Department of Primary Care and Community Medicine, Medical Education Center, Aichi Medical University School of Medicine, 1-1 Yazakokarimata, Nagakute, Aichi, 480-1195, Japan.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

The relationship between students and the pharmaceutical industry has received substantial attention for decades. However, there have been few reports on this issue from East Asia. We aimed to investigate Japanese medical students' interactions with and attitudes toward the pharmaceutical industry, and to assess the correlation between exposures to a formal curriculum on drug promotion and perceptions of the appropriateness of the physician-industry relationship.

METHOD:

We invited all 80 medical schools in Japan to participate. A cross-sectional anonymous survey was administered to medical students and school staff at the 40 schools that participated. The questionnaire for students assessed interactions with and attitudes toward the pharmaceutical industry. The questionnaire for school staff assessed the formal undergraduate curriculum.

RESULTS:

Forty of the 80 medical schools in Japan participated. The response rate to the medical student survey was 74.1%, with 6771 evaluable responses. More than 98% of clinical students had previously accepted a small gift of stationery, a brochure, or lunch, and significantly higher percentages of clinical than preclinical students had accepted one or more gifts (P < .001). Among preclinical and clinical students, respectively, 62.7 and 71.9% believed it was appropriate to accept stationery, and 60.5 and 71.0% thought that attending an industry-sponsored lunch did not influence clinical practice. Of the 40 participating schools, 13 (33.0%) had a formal curriculum on drug promotion. A multivariate analysis showed an association between exposure to a formal curriculum and students' perceptions of the appropriateness of the physician-industry relationship only for gifts of stationery, which were perceived as inappropriate (OR: 0.81, 95% CI: 0.69-0.95, P = .02).

CONCLUSIONS:

Most Japanese medical students interact with the pharmaceutical industry and believe that gift acceptance is appropriate and not influential. This study demonstrated a limited association between students' perceptions of gift appropriateness and exposure to a formal curriculum.

KEYWORDS:

Conflict of interest; Medical education; Medical students; Pharmaceutical industry; Undergraduate education

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