Closing the door on pharma? A national survey of family medicine residencies regarding industry interactions

Acad Med. 2011 May;86(5):649-54. doi: 10.1097/ACM.0b013e318212e8d4.


Purpose: To assess the extent and type of interactions U.S. family medicine residencies permit industry to have with medical students and residents.

Method: In 2008, the authors e-mailed a four-question survey to residency directors or coordinators at all 460 accredited U.S. family medicine residencies concerning the types of industry support and interaction permitted. The authors conducted quantitative and qualitative analyses of survey responses and written comments. Residencies that did not permit any industry food, gifts, samples, or support of residency activities were designated "pharma-free."

Results: The survey response rate was 62.2% (286/460). Among responding family medicine residencies, 52.1% refused drug samples, 48.6% disallowed industry gifts or food, 68.5% forbade industry-sponsored residency activities, and 44.1% denied industry access to students and residents at the family medicine center. Seventy-five residencies (26.2%) were designated as "pharma-free." Medical-school-based and medical-school-administered residencies were no more likely than community-based residencies to be pharma-free. Among the 211 programs that permitted interaction, 68.7% allowed gifts or food, 61.1% accepted drug samples, 71.1% allowed industry representatives access to trainees in the family medicine center, and 37.9% allowed industry-sponsored residency activities. Respondents commented on challenges inherent to limiting industry interactions. Many programs noted recent changes in plans or practices.

Conclusions: Most family medicine residencies limit industry interaction with trainees. Because industry interactions can have adverse effects on rational prescribing, residency programs should assess the benefits and harms of these relationships.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Attitude of Health Personnel
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Drug Industry*
  • Family Practice / education*
  • Family Practice / trends
  • Female
  • Forecasting
  • Gift Giving
  • Humans
  • Internship and Residency / methods*
  • Interprofessional Relations*
  • Male
  • Quality Control
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United States