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Fam Med. 1995 Oct;27(9):581-5.

Teaching information mastery: evaluating information provided by pharmaceutical representatives.

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Harrisburg Hospital Family Practice Residency Program, PA, USA.



The pharmaceutical industry plays a large role in the lifelong learning of family physicians. Controversy exists over how to integrate this potential information source into residency curricula.


Based on a a faculty and resident needs assessment, a curriculum was designed to teach the evaluation of pharmaceutical representatives' (PRs) presentations. The Pharmaceutical Representative Evaluation Form is the keystone of the curriculum. This evaluation form guides discussion of pharmaceutical presentation to facilitate understanding of the sales process and help residents confirm or dispute the presentation's content, based on the sales methods used. A second goal of the evaluation program is to improve the content of the PRs' presentations.


Residents rapidly acquire the ability to identify potential fallacies of logic and other misleading sales techniques in representatives' presentations. Compared with pretest results, residents' posttest scores demonstrate an understanding that PRs and the acceptance of promotional items can affect their prescribing behavior. Most PRs are pleased that their role is seen as educational.


Physicians must function more as information managers than as information repositories, and it is important that residents be able to obtain useful information from PRs. Our curriculum has been effective in increasing residents' abilities to evaluate the pharmaceutical sales process and allowing them to separate the ┬┐wheat from the chaff┬┐ contained in this ubiquitous source of information.

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