Background: Concerns have been expressed about physicians' acceptance of gifts from pharmaceutical companies, but few studies have examined or attempted to change medical students' attitudes about accepting such gifts.
Methods: We used a questionnaire survey to measure attitudes about accepting such gifts. We then carried out a field experiment to compare changes in second-year medical students' attitudes, seven weeks after a one-hour lecture and discussion about the appropriateness of pharmaceutical gifts, to changes in first-year students who were not exposed to the program.
Results: Following the intervention, second-year students became less accepting of these marketing practices; first-year students showed no significant change. The difference between the groups after the intervention was statistically significant (P < .0001).
Conclusions: If medical students' attitudes about accepting gifts from pharmaceutical companies need to be changed, this study suggests that the process may be fostered with little investment of curricular time.