Norwegian medical students’ attitudes towards the pharmaceutical industry
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Whereas there is a considerable body of information on the interaction between physicians and the pharmaceutical industry, little is known about the pharmaceutical industry–medical student relationship. We have assessed the extent of contact between Norwegian medical students and the pharmaceutical industry as well as the attitudes of these students towards the pharmaceutical industry.
A self-assessment questionnaire was distributed to fifth- and sixth-year students attending the four medical schools in Norway and to Norwegian medical students attending selected universities abroad.
A total of 65.8% of all eligible students returned a completed questionnaire. Of these, 73.9% had been exposed to various levels of contact with the pharmaceutical industry, but only 17.5% reported having a generally positive attitude towards the industry. The level of exposure did not correlate in students’ attitudes; rather, it correlated positively to a feeling of competence in terms of being able to handle such interactions. A majority of students responded that while they would decline accepting monetary gifts, they would welcome receiving reimbursements for meeting expenses, meals and educational material. Students favoured a practice of full disclosure of potential industry-related conflicts of interest among the university teaching staff. There were considerable differences in the students’ attitudes between universities, suggesting that medical students are prone to influence from university lecturers.
Norwegian medical students are opinionated, critical and curious with respect to pharmaceutical industry relations. This interest can be explored and probably also modified by educational initiatives.