A systematic review of curricula on relationships between residents and the pharmaceutical industry

Med Educ. 2008 Mar;42(3):301-8. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2923.2007.02998.x.


Context: Research has demonstrated the potential adverse impact of pharmaceutical company marketing techniques on doctor knowledge and prescribing practices. Lack of experience may make resident doctors particularly vulnerable to pharmaceutical industry influence. Curricula addressing resident-pharmaceutical industry relations have been reported, but there is no consensus regarding the best approach to take.

Objective: This study aimed to review published curricula that address resident-pharmaceutical industry relations and to assess them for content, validity and outcomes measures.

Methods: Curricula were identified via searches of electronic databases and bibliographies of collected articles. Inclusion criteria required articles to describe an educational curriculum, applied in graduate medical education, on relations between doctors and the pharmaceutical industry.

Results: The search identified 9 curricula. Most addressed detailing of residents by pharmaceutical representatives. Two articles described curriculum development. Eight articles included an evaluation component; only 1 included a control group for comparison. Modest improvements were noted in resident confidence, knowledge of guidelines, belief in the potential influence of marketing on behaviour, and self-reported acceptance of gifts. Only 2 evaluations used a validated outcome instrument, and no studies included longterm follow-up.

Conclusions: A limited number of curricula have addressed resident-pharmaceutical industry interactions. Inconsistency in content, application and evaluation methodology prevents any meaningful synthesis of data. Resident attitudes and behaviours may be affected, but the outcome measures used lacked sufficient validity to assess improvements in knowledge and analytic skills. A clearer delineation of the curriculum development process and the use of standardised outcome measures would facilitate the reproduction of positive results at other institutions.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Curriculum
  • Drug Industry*
  • Internship and Residency*
  • Interprofessional Relations*